24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to inform the Senate that, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, I notified the Governor of the State of Queensland of the vacancy in the representation of that State in the Senate caused by the death of Senator Maxwell William Poulter, and that I have received, through His Excellency the Governor-General, from the Governor of the State of Queensland, a certificate of the choice of George Irvine Whiteside as a senator to fill the vacancy.
Certificate laid on the table and read by the Acting Clerk.
Senator Whiteside made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
– I wish to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate three questions. Is it a fact that mass opinion in Australia holds that the United States of America would come to our rescue in the event of a minor war? Can Australia count on the United States in such an eventuality? Is the United States satisfied with Australia’s contribution to the defence of South-East Asia?
– I inform the honorable senator that, apart from our traditional friendship with the United States of America, we have contractual obligations and contractual rights under the Anzus treaty which I think would be deciding factors.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether he has seen a leading article in last night’s Adelaide “ News “ in which the Minister for Immigration is quoted as having said that the Chowilla dam might be started sooner than people expect. The article also stated that the reason for the hold-up was the absence of agreement between the States over the allocation of water. Is it a fact that the Minister for National Development told the Senate on a previous occasion that the hold-up was not due to the allocation of water rights, that the water rights had been favorably settled on the basis of fivefifteenths to each State concerned and that the hold-up was due to the fact that the New South Wales Government had not provided its share of the cost? Will the Minister clarify those two points and tell us whether construction of the dam will be started sooner than we had expected? Will he also tell us just what steps are being taken to pull this situation out of the bog and expedite the starting of this dam?
– I did not see the leading article to which Senator Buttfield refers, but I inform her that there is no disagreement over the sharing of water to be stored by the Chowilla dam. All three States concerned have agreed that the construction of the dam would be a good thing. All parties have agreed that in periods of water restriction the formula for the allocation of water should be altered to ensure that each State will obtain an equal share of water during those periods. Therefore, if the newspaper article says there is disagreement among the States about the sharing of water, it is not correct.
As I think I have told the Senate previously, the present situation is that all governments agree upon the desirability of and the need for the construction of the Chowilla dam. The New South Wales Government has asked the other governments concerned to examine a proposal that waters from the Menindie storage should be used for a period of time with a view to deferring the commencement of the dam so as to enable New South Wales at some future date to have available its share of the money for the work. That examination of the Menindie waters is nearly completed. As soon as it is completed, there will be another meeting of the River Murray Commission or, alternatively, another meeting of the Prime Minister with the Premiers of the States concerned to consider the position. As to my colleague’s remark that the work may be done sooner than is now expected, I should say that I share that belief. We are all keen to bring to finality arrangements which will enable a start to be made.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise seen a report in the Adelaide press to the effect that a sixteen-years-old schoolboy unlawfully killed a schoolmate with a home-made gun? Did the Minister notice that the judge said that he could not help believing that this tragedy was to a large extent due to the violent rubbish being fed the young people to-day? Does the Minister agree that the judge’s comment referred to the crime-packed, crime-inciting tripe being served up daily for long periods on television? Does the Minister realize that, unfortunately, this is only one tragedy of many attributed to these horror films? Does the Minister agree that these films on television, depicting crime in every conceivable form, must have a serious effect on young, impressionable minds, instilling, as they do, in young people the idea that human life is cheap? Although the Minister will, no doubt, say that the responsibility rests with parents, does he not agree that, whilst that argument is all right in theory, it does not work out in practice? Will the Minister take some action, if not to ban, at least to limit the nature and time of this wholly objectionable rubbish? Further, does he agree that these crimepacked films teach nothing which could not be taught in other, more acceptable ways?
– The question really covers the standard of television films, which comes under the direction of the PostmasterGeneral. I did read the article to which the honorable senator refers. The judge may be correct. His guess is as good as anybody’s as to the reason why this boy, apparently, made the gun that he used to shoot his schoolmate. The point that the honorable senator makes is of some importance. I know that many people are concerned at the number of crime films shown on television programmes, but these generally carry a moral; the “ baddie “ gets shot, as a rule. However, I think that there is substance in what the honorable senator says. A lot of this material on television could be eliminated, without harming anybody. I am prepared to bring the matter to the attention of the Postmaster-General.
Senator O’BYRNE__ By way of preface to a question, which I direct to the Minister for Health, I remind the Minister that of the £10,000,000 granted by the Commonwealth to the States under the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act 1955, Tasmania received £355,000. At present, £3,000,000 of the £10,000,000 granted to the States remains unclaimed because of Commonwealth Government policy, which imposes conditions on the spending of the money which are unsuitable to several States. However, Tasmania has a great and pressing need for the building lag at the Lachlan Park Hospital to be overcome. The Minister personally acquainted himself with that matter on a recent visit. Has the Minister been able to make any progress in his efforts to have the unclaimed £3,000,000 from the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act made available to Victoria and Tasmania for use on urgent mental hospital projects? If the difficulties associated with that act are too great to overcome, will he say whether the Government intends to make special provision for Tasmania on the basis of annual capital grants towards future building expansion at the Lachlan Park Hospital? Finally, will the Minister give the reasons why any person who enters the Lachlan Park Hospital, either as a voluntary patient or as a certified patient, is precluded from his just entitlement to social service payments?
– Senator O’Byrne has asked a series of questions which cannot be answered adequately at question-time; but I will do what I can to reply to what I think are the more important points in his questions. It is true that I had the privilege of inspecting Lachlan Park with the Tasmanian Minister for Health. All I want to say on that count is that the Tasmanian Government has made great progress in its attempts to provide a better way of life for the people under its care in its institutions. Lachlan Park has seven new wards which would do great credit to any State. I think it is fair to say that about the progress which Tasmania is making in this regard.
The honorable senator has asked whether I have made any representations to the States with unclaimed balances in order to have those balances re-distributed among the!
States in need of further financial assistance. My answer is that I have made no such representations for the very good reason that in 1955 the Commonwealth Government made a contract with the States. Under that contract the Commonwealth undertook to provide £10,000,000 as a grant if the States provided £20,000,000 as a matching grant. That grant was distributed on a population basis. The contract, I repeat, was made by the Commonwealth with the several States. I do not think it can be argued that the Commonwealth has any right at all to say to New South Wales, Queensland or any other State that has an unclaimed balance, “ Are you prepared to relieve us of our part of the contract so that we may distribute the money somewhere else?”
A solution of this problem, I believe, has to be found by the States themselves getting together on this matter and seeing whether they can devise ways and means whereby the States that have unclaimed balances are prepared to re-allocate them. I have some doubts whether that could be achieved. Whilst the honorable senator has suggested that some States are not contemplating claiming their balances, I do not think that is true of all States. I think that this year New South Wales has committed itself to the spending of something over £1,000,000 on mental health.
Finally, Senator O’Byrne has asked me why people are deprived of the social service benefit when they are committed to an institution. Of course, this matter is within the responsibility of the Minister for Social Services; but may I say as briefly as I can that no federal government right down the years has accepted responsibility for people in mental hospitals. The whole basis of Commonwealth pensions is the assistance of the individual. In the case of ordinary hospital treatment the Commonwealth assists the individual by way of hospital benefits. If a similar scheme could be implemented in respect of mental hospitals, it could be worthy of consideration. However, I remind the honorable senator that when a person is committed to a mental institution, there and then all his assets pass into the hands of the Master of Lunacy. How then could any patient in a mental hospital receive any benefit by way of a pension or medical benefit while the present State laws exist?
– I desire to inform the Senate that three members of the United Kingdom branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, who are visiting Australia as an official delegation from that branch, are at present in the gallery of the Senate. The delegates are the Right Honorable Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith, D.B.E., M.P., leader of the delegation; Bryant Godman Irvine, Esquire. M.P., and Ellis Smith, Esquire, M.P. On behalf of the Senate and the Commonwealth of Australia branch of the association, I extend to them a very cordial welcome.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a statement by a spokesman for Saunders Roe Limited to the effect that cattle freighting in Australia may be done soon by hovercraft using land and sea routes? Will the Minister comment on what his department is doing in view of the fact that the hovercraft SRN2, a 44-passenger craft with a top speed of 68 knots, already has carried 4,000 passengers at £2 a head between Southampton and Ryde in the Isle of Wight? Has the Government followed the suggestion of Mr. Peter Thorneycroft, the British Minister for Civil Aviation, that Australian transport authorities should discuss the use of the hovercraft with British designers because the hovercraft are practical and have a big future in Australia with its harbours and plentiful waterways?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable senator has referred, but I am interested to hear of it. With great respect to the gentleman who made the statement, I think that his assertion about the transport of cattle, both over land and water, by hovercraft is, to say the least, premature at this time. I am well aware, and have referred to it previously in this chamber, of what is being done in the United Kingdom with hovercraft. I am well aware that some prototypes have been used as ferries, but, as I have pointed out, they have not yet reached the stage at which they are a commercial proposition. My department is keeping in very close touch with what is going on in the United Kingdom. Indeed, we are not unaware of the possibilities of this development in Australia. There have been instances in which private enterprise has shown a quickening interest in the development, but I emphasize again that while it is one of great interest to Australia, it has not yet reached the point at which it may be regarded realistically as a proposition which we can encompass at least within the next few years.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate direct the attention of the Government to the adverse publicity which Australia is receiving at this time in the press of the world in relation to the proposed hanging of the man Tait? Will the Government direct the attention of the State Premier concerned to the fact that no person should play God and take another’s life? A member of the medical profession or any individual is prosecuted vigorously even for a mercy killing. Tait should be imprisoned for the term of his natural life - the severest penalty that could be imposed upon him. This contemplated barbaric action on the part of an accepted civilized country should be avoided at all costs.
– I am certain that the Commonwealth Government will not make any representations to the State government concerned upon a matter which so peculiarly lies within the powers of that State government. The administration of justice in each State is a matter for the State government.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that’ the Commonwealth Government has been meeting the full cost of air transport to the southern States of residents of the Northern Territory in indigent circumstances who need urgent specialist medical attention which is not available in the Territory? Also, is it a fact that the Government recently undertook to meet, without the operation of a means test, all but £20 of the cost involved in transporting any resident who requires such attention? As many patients are unable to travel long distances alone, can the Minister inform the Senate whether any concession is available to an attendant?
– Until recently the Government provided travel concessions only to the indigent in the Northern Territory. It is true that for a long time free travel has been granted to a patient in need of specialist treatment not available at Darwin. If the patient required attention at a capital city the free travel facility was extended also to the escort.
Some few weeks ago the Government agreed also to provide travel facilities for other members of the resident population who had to travel to the nearest capital city to obtain specialist treatment. Upon payment of £20 a patient may be transported to the nearest capital city and the attendant is provided with travel arrangements under the same conditions. The DirectorGeneral of Health for the Northern Territory is obliged to certify that the patient is in need of specialist treatment and is also in need of an attendant.
The reason for the granting of this concession is simple and merits the support of all thinking people. The Government believes that those who live in the Territory should be at no disadvantage compared with those living in any other rural area of Australia. Let me cite an example. It could well be argued that if a person lived at Mildura and required specialist treatment in Melbourne, the cost to travel to Melbourne would be in the vicinity of £20. That is the basis on which the Government has made its decision on this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Does the latest unemployment report of the Department of Labour and National Service indicate that, when seasonally adjusted, the September unemployment figures show a slight rise compared with the August figures? Does the Government regard the present unemployment figures as indicating satisfactory progress? What is the Government’s estimate of the number of school leavers at the end of this year? In view of the need to find employment for school leavers, as well as for those still unemployed, does the Government see any hope at all of honouring its promise to restore full employment by December?
– I myself would have regarded the latest report from the Department of Labour and National Service as a report on employment, and not a report on unemployment, as suggested by the honorable senator. I make that statement because the report shows such a great improvement in conditions in Australia. It shows - I hope that the Senate is interested in this - not only a considerable drop in those registered for employment, but also a drop of some thousands in the number comprising the previous hard core of persons who were drawing unemployment relief and a great rise in the number of advertised positions waiting to be filled. So ail these things are moving in the right direction.
I think it is fair to say that over the last two years, prior to December, there have been cries about the troubles there would be when school leavers came on to the employment market. However, we have now reached the stage where we have 1.8 per cent, unemployment throughout Australia, where there is a clear movement in the right direction, and where the two lots of school leavers have been absorbed into the work force. As the Minister for Labour and National Service has stated, the Government is conferring with employers on absorbing into the work force those who will be leaving school around the Christmas period. I believe Senator Cohen would be among the small minority of people who are not greatly cheered by this latest report on the healthy employment situation in Australia.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that after the 1956 Hungarian revolution, a dispute took place at the United Nations as to which presentatives of Hungary? Is it a fact that presentatives of Hungary? It is a fact that the United Nations decided to take no action upon the credentials of the delegates from the Kadar Communist regime? Is it a fact that despite this decision, the Kadar delegates sit and vote in the United Nations just as if their credentials were duly accepted? Is it a fact that the United Nations has even gone on with the farce of appointing ene of these delegates to the sub-committee upon the peaceful uses of outer space, and to other committees? Is this possible because of the peculiar nature of the United Nations standing orders or regulations? If so, will the Government initiate a move to have them amended in a reasonable fashion?
– The facts are that when the Hungarian Government presented its credentials some time ago - that is, the present Kadar Government - the United Nations, on the recommendations of the credentials committee, decided to make no decision on whether to accept or reject those credentials. The organization refused to accept them and it refused to reject them. Under the procedures of the United Nations, that made it possible for the representatives to sit in the United Nations and to be appointed to its committees. The honorable senator has referred to one of them. I shall have to refer the other part of the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for External Affairs.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a report that the Government of the United States of America had called for a meeting of the International Wool Study Group Management Committee to discuss the dumping of wool textiles produced in cheap labour countries and the competitive position of wool and man-made fibres? Is the Minister aware that the United States Government has expressed concern at recent wool textile imports? Does the Minister know that the subject of the importation into Australia of textile products from cheap labour countries has recently been discussed in the Legislative Council of the New South Wales Parliament? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the Government will take all action within its power to prevent the dumping of such products on the Australian market?
– I have no information about the proposals in the United
States of America and accordingly I ask the honorable senator to put his question on the notice-paper. The honorable senator will be aware that there is already in existence dumping legislation under the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– In the circumstances described by the honorable senator, the widow would be eligible for a repatriation pension. Provision is made in the act, and specifically by regulation 176, which states -
A Deputy Commissioner may, having regard to the circumstances of the case, grant to the widow of a deceased member -
who has re-married and is again widowed;
who is without adequate means of support; and
who is resident in Australia or a Terri tory of the Commonwealth, an allowance. . . .
The allowance ranges from 48s. in the case of a childless widow to 78s. in the case of a widow with four or more children. In addition, there is an allowance which, I imagine, is in the nature of a domestic allowance. It is payable to a widow with children and increases with the number of children. I refer the honorable senator to regulation 176.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that between 10th April, 1962, and 6th August, 1962, Sydney wharf labourers alone lost something like £272,000 in wages in fighting against the penal provisions in their awards? Does not the Minister agree that waterside workers who are prepared to make such sacrifices for what they consider just principles, must at least believe in their cause? Will he do what he can to end the dreadful cold war on the Australian waterfront?
– I am not at all clear on why the Minister for the Navy is expected to do something about the waterside workers. All I can say, in reply to the honorable senator’s question, is that if waterside workers have refused to work and therefore have not been paid the sum of money to which he has referred, it could be because they believe in their cause or because they were driven into action by stand-over tactics.
– Ten days ago, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a question relating to the revolutionary and unstable situation which still exists in the Yemen and which threatens the security of British and Australian interests at Aden. Will the Minister endeavour to reply to this question as soon as possible, since the situation does not appear to be getting any better?
– Yes, Mr. President, I shall.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Health a question which arises from the question asked by Senator O’Byrne. I preface it by reminding honorable senators that I have stated my intention to pursue this matter until a satisfactory solution is achieved. I refer to the plight of people who are forced into mental institutions and who are pensioners. I ask the Minister whether he is aware that there are legal trustees-
– You were making similar representations to the Chifley Government twelve years ago, when you were a Minister in a State parliament.
– Quite correct. I have been making them all the time, and I intend to continue to make them until justice is done.
– Or until we make you a Minister to correct them.
– Thank you. I am indeed honoured. Is the Minister aware that there are legal trustees for these people, such as the Master in Lunacy? Does he honestly believe that it is beyond the capabilities of any individual or government to allow such trustees to disburse funds for the comfort of a patient, such as to allow him money for cigarettes and other comforts, and to accumulate the balance of such moneys for the use of the patient when he leaves the institution and returns to his home?
– The question asked by Senator Turnbull is of a legal nature and should be directed to the Minister for Social Services. I have nothing more than that to add to the earlier answer I gave, except to say that I think the honorable senator’s new-found zeal for Lachlan Park is a classic example of Satan reproving sin. I understand that he was Minister for Health in Tasmania for some years and that, what is more important, he was also Treasurer. During those years, so far as I know, his voice was never raised in this connexion. Now he seeks the opportunity to jump on the band-wagon and try to add his representations to those of people from Tasmania and Victoria who are stating the case for their respective States adequately, fairly and frankly.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Are there any figures which show the number of wives of age pensioners who are unable to receive social service benefits because they have not attained the age of 60 years? Will the Minister consider the payment of a wife’s allowance, as is paid to the wives of invalid pentioners, to age pensioners’ wives who are in the 50 years to 60 years age group and who are suffering hardship? Does the Minister consider it reasonable to expect elderly women to seek employment if their health is poor but not so poor as to measure up to the 85 per cent, degree of disability, which is a necessary requirement for the payment of an invalid pension?
– I can only give Senator Tangney the reply that it has been long-standing Commonwealth Government policy - I think 1 would be correct in saying since the inception of the age pension scheme - to make the pension available at 65 years for males and 60 years for females. Senator Tangney asks for a revision of that long-established arrangement. That is a matter of policy, and I am sorry to say that I do not feel able to discuss it in answer to a question without notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is he aware that it is now four years since the special committee appointed by the Government to examine anomalies in the Public Service made its report to the Parliament? Is he aware that that report recommended, amongst other things, the repeal of legislation which required that women employed in the Public Service must resign when they marry? Does he remember that, following the recommendation, banking legislation was introduced in the Parliament which included a provision requiring women employed in the Public Service to resign when they married, and that there was subsequently an act of this Parliament which, while removing various anomalies in Public Service employment, left out of consideration the anomaly relating to the employment of women that I have mentioned? Also, does he remember that the Liberal women senators went to the Prime Minister about a year ago and asked whether the Government would say what it intended to do about this outdated and ridiculous requirement? As we have not yet received a reply to our request, will the Minister take the matter up with the Prime Minister and ask whether we may have a speedy answer indicating when the Government intends to do away with this most unpopular form of legislation?
– I thank Senator Buttfield for her support of the Government in this matter. It is quite a vexed question. The honorable senator says that she has made a series of representations. If she places the question on the noticepaper we shall be able to get the correct answer for her.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
To complete the above table information has been obtained from another source on Air India’s results for 1960 and according to this source Air India’s operating profit in 1960 was £A 170,000. In relation to profit and loss details for these airlines during the 1961 financial year, figures have had to be obtained from sources other thanI.C.A.O. and may therefore not be strictly comparable with the above scries. Qantas’ annual report for 1960-61 showed that the airline made a net profit of £388,000 in the twelve months ended 31st March, 1961, and B.O.A.C.’s annual report for 1960-61 showed that the airshowed the corporation as incurring a deficit of £A3, 180,000 in that period. For the other three airlines, reports have been seen that Alitalia made a profit of £A1,181,000 and Air India an operating profit of £A 1,1 06,000 while S.A.S. incurred a deficit of £A7,720,000 in the 1961 financial year.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has informed me as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has informed me as follows: -
Freight paid overseas on Australian imports is estimated at about £125 million for the year 1961-62. The figure includes, however, freights paid to Australian shipowners. These are mainly for imports from Australian territories and nearby Pacific islands and the amounts concerned are not large. Some payments to overseas shipowners for carriage of interstate cargo (e.g. petroleum products) are also included.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following answer: -
– Pursuant to the provisions of the Coal Industry Act 1946-1958, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Coal Industry Act - Fifteenth Annual Report of the Joint Coal Board together with AuditorGeneral’s report on accounts, for year 1961- 1962.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill now before honorable senators proposes amendments of the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1962 and comprises eighteen schedules with each schedule having a different date of commencement. In the main, the tariff changes are based on recommendations arising out of reports by the Tariff Board and reports by special advisory authorities. However, a number of changes of a drafting and administrative nature also occur but these do not affect the rates of duty payable. For the benefit of honorable senators I will outline very briefly the subjects covered by the bill as they appear in each schedule.
The First Schedule imposes temporary additional duties on the basic forms of polyvinyl chloride following a recommendation by a special advisory authority. An examination of the needs of the industry on a long-term basis is at present with the Tariff Board.
The Second Schedule provides for tariff changes in regard to -
Continuous filament acetate (other than triacetate) yarn.
Slide viewers and projectors,
Empty capsules of unhardened gelatine,
Ammonium nitrate, and
The tariff protection on yarns, wholly of acetate, is unchanged but is being extended to yarn in chief part by weight of acetate. The protective duties on triacetate yarn, which is not produced in Australia, are being removed. The duties on imitation catgut are reduced to the level recommended by the Tariff Board in its report on monofilaments.
Slide viewers and projectors are made subject to temporary additional duties following a report and recommendation by a special advisory authority. Provision has been made for the free admission of empty capsules of unhardened gelatine. These goods were previously free of duty as being unspecified in the Customs Tariff. There are considerable imports of these goods and the provision of a separate tariff item will ensure accurate statistics.
The action taken on ammonium nitrate merely corrects an existing anomaly. The alteration in respect of cocoa butter is also of an administrative nature and allows cocoa butter to be admitted under concessional by-law rates of duty for all purposes as approved. At present the only extension to the existing concession envisaged is to permit cocoa butter to be used in all types of confectionery as well as chocolate confectionery as at present.
The Third Schedule provides for tariff alterations on -
Passengers’ personal effects,
Sodium silicates, and
In its report on gramophone parts the Tariff Board has assessed the protective needs of the Australian industry for the first time. The rates recommended for adoption represent an increase over the concessional bylaw rates which applied until September, 1960, but are lower, in some cases, than those which have applied since the by-law concession was withdrawn.
An alteration has been made to the tariff item relating to passengers’ effects in order to simplify any administrative change required in relation to passengers’ furniture and household goods. It permits such changes to be made by departmental bylaws. The change consequent on this amendment will liberalize the existing concessions on used furniture of £400 per passenger to £1,000 per passenger.
Protective duties have been imposed on sodium metasilicates which are now produced locally in three forms and used principally in detergents and laundry preparations. Evidence submitted to the Tariff Board indicates that protection is no longer required on sodium silicates other than metasilicates.
Time of day synchronous motor time switches are now subject to protective rates of duty of 22½ per cent. ad valorem British preferential tariff and 30 per cent. ad valorem otherwise. Other types of electric time switches remain at non-protective rates.
The Fourth to the Twelfth Schedules inclusive relate to the imposition of temporary additional duties on -
Automotive electric components,
Conveyor belts and belting,
Paper, paperboards and paper felt,
Air-cooled internal combustion engines,
Weedicides and insecticides,
Wrought iron and steel chain,
Towels and towelling,
Polyvinyl chloride products, and are consequent on reports by special advisory authorities.
In the Thirteenth Schedule the proposed changes are based on recommendations by the Tariff Board on -
Bonded fibre fabrics,
Discontinuous man-made fibre yarns,
Pneumatic tires and tubes,
Citric acid, tartaric acid and cream of tartar, and
A protective rate of duty of 20 per cent. ad valorem from all countries has been provided for on bonded fibre fabrics. Provision has been made for free admission under concessional by-laws for any fabric for which suitable equivalents are not available from Australian manufacture. For the first time protective duties are imposed on acrylic yarns while the existing protection on viscose and acetate yarns is extended from count number 24 to count number 34.
The duties on pneumatic tires and tubes have, in the main, been reduced to 6d. per lb. or 7½ per cent., British preferential tariff, and1s. per lb. or 20 per cent., mostfavourednation tariff, whichever rate returns the higher duty. Administrative drafting changes have also been made to include pneumatic tires and tubes at their appropriate rates in the items applicable to rotary cultivators, hoes or tillers, tractors and motor cycles when imported therewith.
In regard to sensitive balances the rates of duty under the most-favoured-nation and general tariff have been reduced from12½ per cent. to7½ per cent. ad valorem while the British preferential rate remains unchanged at free.
The alternative fixed rates of duty on static capacitors have been removed but the existing ad valorem duties of 22½ per cent. British preferential tariff and 50 per cent. most-favoured-nation have been retained.
In the absence of any existing or likely import competition the protective duty on cream of tartar has been removed. The rates of duty on citric acid and tartaric acid remain unchanged.
The existing level of tariff protection on woollen yarns remains unchanged. However, in respect of yarns of wool in admixture with other fibres the duties applicable to woollen yarns will now apply only provided the wool content is 20 per cent. or more. The opportunity has also been taken to re-draft the tariff provisions covering textile goods such as yarns, tow, waste and the like according to the predominant textile fibre. This administrative re-draft does not vary the rates of duties previously applying to those goods.
The Fourteenth Schedule imposes temporary additional duties on compressors, including sealed or semi-sealed unit compressors, not exceeding 5 horse-power, for use in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment.
The Fifteenth Schedule provides for the removal of temporary duties imposed earlier this year on benzylpenicillin and phenoxymethylpenicillin and their salts and on streptomycin sulphate. These duties have been replaced, on the recommendation of a special advisory authority, by temporary quantitative import restrictions pending the outcome of the current inquiry by the Tariff Board.
The proposed changes in the Sixteenth Schedule will give effect to the Government’s decision on reports by the Tariff Board on abrasive and spring rollers for blinds. Protective duties are being imposed on abrasive materials imported in large rolls for cutting in Australia. This basic material is in volume production by the principal manufacturer of abrasive discs and sheets and local production is planned by other companies.
The duties on wooden blind rollers are being reduced to non-protective rates but tariff protection on metal blind rollers will remain unchanged.
The Seventeenth Schedule relates to imposition of temporary additional sliding scale duties on certain glazed ceramic tiles in sizes of 6 inches by 6 inches and on cycle saddles.
The final schedule of this bill provides for tariff changes arising out of recommendations by the Tariff Board on chlorine products, paper bobbins, cones and tubes as used in the textile spinning and weaving industry, and on cutlery forks and spoons, together with a recommendation by a special advisory authority on chicory. The board’s report on chlorine products covered a wide range of chemicals and honorable senators will recall that only partial implementation of the board’s report was undertaken. Higher duties are proposed for trichlorethylene, perchlorethylene, copper oxychloride and zinc ammonium chloride, but the existing protective duties are being removed on chloropicrin. Tariff protection is retained on paper cones and parallel spinning tubes, but the Tariff Board has found that the additional protection afforded by the temporary duties is no longer necessary in view of anti-dumping action now in force. The principal types and qualities of cutlery produced by local industry are now subject to increased protective duties. Action is also taken to implement certain concessions accorded on safety razors and blades following international trade negotiations. A temporary additional duty of1½d. per lb. from all countries is imposed on chicory.
In conclusion I invite the attention of honorable senators to the summaries of tariff alterations which have just been distributed. The changes involved will be found set out in some detail, including the previous rates, those now proposed and the reasons for the changes. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
Senator HENTY (Tasmania - Minister
That the bill be now read a second time.
The provisions of this bill are complementary to those in Customs Tariff (No. 4) Bill 1962. This bill provides for several drafting changes in the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1962 following amendments of their counterparts in the Customs Tariff. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes a number of amendments to the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933- 1962. This action is complementary to that being taken in Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1962. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 11th October (vide page 826).
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I move -
That, unless otherwise ordered, the Estimates be further considered in the following order: -
Department of Health, £4,593,000
Capital Works and Services, £817,000
Payments to or for the States, £400,000.
Capital Works and Services, £35,000
Prime Minister’s Department, £12.463,000
Capital Works and Services, £2,229,000
Warand Repatriation Services - Reconstruction and Rehabilitation - University Training, £16,000
Department of External Affairs, £11,551,000
Capital Works and Services, £357,000
Economic assistance to support defence programme SEATO member countries, £1,000,000.
Department of the Treasury, £66,442,000.
Capital Works and Services, £2,235,000
War and Repatriation Services- Miscellaneous - Department of the Treasury, £91,000.
Recoverable Expenditure, Cr. £74,000
Attorney-General’s Department, £2,793,000
Capital Works and Services, £175,000
Department of the Interior, £6,742,000.
Capital Works and Services, £2,289,000
Civil Defence, £330,000
War and Repatriation Services - Miscellaneous - Department of the Interior, £339,000.
Australian War Memorial, £116,000
Department of Works, £5,093,000
Capital Works and Services, £1,235,000
Department of Shipping and Transport, £4,150,000
Capital Works and Services, £6,857,000
Construction of Jetty for Handling of Explosives, £37,000
Department of Trade, £4,265,000
Capital Works and Services, £86,000
Department of Primary Industry, £16,889,000
Capital Works and Services, £8,000
War and Repatriation Services - Establishment of Ex-Servicemen in Agricultural Occupations, £1,600,000.
Department of Territories, £514,000
Capital Works and Services, £17,000
Northern Territory, £9,239,200
Capital Works and Services, £7,452,000
Australian Capital Territory, £5,675,400
Capital Works and Services, £16,236,000
Norfolk Island, £51,000
Papua and New Guinea, £20,201,000
Capital Works and Services, £405,000
Cocos (Keeling) Islands, £40,300
Capital Works and Services, £5,000
Christmas Island, £100
Department of Social Services, £7,596,000
Capital Works and Services, £117,000
War and Repatriation Services - Miscellaneous - Department of Social Services, £17,000
Repatriation Department, £107,226,000
Capital Works and Services, £502,000
Department of Immigration, £11,792,000
Capital Works and Services, £451,000
Department of Labour and National Service, £2,812,000
Capital Works and Services, £97,000
Post Discharge Re-settlement Training, £1,000.
Technical Training, £110,000
Department of Defence, £2,771,000
Recruiting Campaign, £504,000
Department of the Army, £67,299,000.
Department of Air, £66,368,000
Department of Supply, £22,800,000
Commonwealth Railways, £5,390,000
Capital Works and Services, £2,300,000
Postmaster-General’s Department, £106,459,000
Capital Works and Services, £62,643,000
Broadcasting and Television Services, £14,120,000
Capital Works and Services, £4,175,000
Overseas Telecommunications Commission - Capital Works and Services, £3,500,000
May I say in explanation that the only alteration that has been made is that we have put the capital works and services votes with the departmental votes. Now the committee will deal with the two votes at the same time.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Opposition raises no objection to this course. I suggested that this course might be followed when we began the debate on the Estimates Papers. I think it is more orderly than the other course. I take it that copies of the new order have been circulated to all honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, £4,593,000.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [4.14]. - I wish to ask the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) for a little information on a few items. I refer to Division No. 291, sub-division 3, item 01 - “ World Health Organization - Contribution, £198,500”. This year’s appropriation represents an increase of about £30,000 over the expenditure last year. I should like the Minister to tell me how that increase is made up. I also refer to item 02 - “ Cattle tick eradication and control in New South Wales- subsidy, £306,000”. I ask the Minister for how long this subsidy is to be paid. According to my recollection, it was to be paid over a number of years and then was to be removed. I should like the Minister to tell me what the present position is and what progress has been made in the eradication of the cattle tick in New South Wales. I turn now to Division No. 293, item 02, which relates to office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing. Expenditure last year on this item was £59,1 17 but the proposed allocation for this year is £103,000, an increase of about £44,000. What is the reason for the increase?
Turning to Other Services, item 02 of which refers to the subsidy for aerial medical services, the proposed allocation is £95,000 for this year whereas expenditure last year amounted to only £67,494. I agree wholeheartedly with the proposal to increase the subsidy in this instance. Our aerial medical services are equal to any such service anywhere in the world in rendering assistance to people in outback areas. What is the reason for the proposed increase? Is it to cover the cost of additional aircraft?
I notice that in Division No. 297 - Serum Laboratories - recorded expenditure last year on stores and plant amounted to £232,263 whereas the allocation was £365,000. What is the reason for this discrepancy?
– Senator Cooper referred to the expenditure on the eradication of ticks in New South Wales. When the Minister is dealing with this aspect I should like him to tell us just how effective our tick control scheme really is. Recently, I had occasion to pass through a tick control gate. My car was stopped and after only a perfunctory examination of the boot I was allowed to continue on my way. It seems a complete waste of money to have people at tick gates who make only a cursory examination of vehicles to ensure that they do not carry tick into New South Wales. Surely some better means of doing this can be found. The present method of control certainly does not impress me. Are we contributing £300,000 to something which does not meet the purpose for which it is allocated?I should like some information from the Minister on this point.
I appreciate what the Minister has done in relation to national fitness. Although the proposed vote for this purpose is the same as it was last year, I believe that a much greater interest has been shown in the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness than has been the case in the past. Apparently the Minister and the directorgeneral have infused some new life into the organization. I look forward to this vote being increased substantially next year. It is clear to any one who visits our capital cities that although the Australian people are enjoying gradually increasing leisure periods we are not providing the facilities for this leisure to be used in the correct way. Playing fields in the capital cities are constantly in use and it is difficult for the people to find areas in which they can use whatever sporting ability they may have. No real action has been taken towards helping the people to use their leisure time. One of the great crimes of this age is that we have supplied our younger people with leisure but have not supplied them with the means for enjoying it. We in authority are not helping our younger people to live a fuller life because we are not providing the facilities for them to do so.
I should like to commend the Minister and that section of his department - I think it is the Commonwealth Acoustics Laboratory - which deals with hearing aids. Recently, I had some contact with organizations which cater for deaf and dumb children, and I found that the Commonwealth Acoustics Laboratory is meticulous in providing help for them. There is no limit to the patience which the officers concerned exercise in trying to help the people, particularly children, who have these afflictions. The Minister and his officers are doing a magnificent job and 1 express my appreciation to them.
I have been unable to find in the Estimates the total cost of health services in the Commonwealth. I know that contributions are made towards hospitals and social services, but I should like to know what the people of Australia contribute towards our health services. If the Minister cannot give me this information now perhaps he will do so later. The cost of drugs is increasing each year to such an extent that I am sure the Minister is concerned. I appreciate the assistance which I have received from the Minister and the Director-General when I have approached them on other occasions.
.- I refer to Division No. 291, sub-division 12, item 04, which relates to health conferences. We have had reports of conferences which have produced excellent results. Is the proposed increase of £3,000 in the allocation to be devoted to an extension of this useful means of discussion and mutual advice?
Turning to sub-division 3, item 01 of which refers to our contribution to the World Health Organization, I notice that it is proposed to increase the appropriation from £163,500 to £198,500. The World Health Organization receives a tremendous amount of assistance from our Department of Health. On page 9 of the report is a most interesting account of the valuable work of the Division of Nursing which arranges programmes for nursing training. Many of these nurses are sponsored by the Colombo Plan and many by the World Health Organization. They undertake either three-year basic nursing training courses or else do post-graduate work in many fields. The training that these students receive must be of inestimable value to the countries which nominate them. I should like to know whether the increased allocation is to cover an extension of this type of work, or just what the Minister has in mind.
I turn now to Division No. 293 and wish to refer to child health centres. I notice that the grant of £50,000 is the same this year as it was last year. It is gratifying that this vote has been maintained because these Lady Gowrie health centres are excellent, not only as administration and training units, but also for providing data of behaviour patterns. I was interested to read on page 12 of the report that the Institute of Child Care has plans in hand for increasing the research into and teaching on child psychiatry.
I should like to pay a tribute to the Government for continuing to provide hearing aids for school children. It is very heartening to read that during the past twelve months 6,014 children have been fitted with hearing aids. At the end of the section outlining the work of the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories we are told that one of the most valuable spheres of work is the development of free testing facilities to ascertain deafness in infants. We should be most thankful for the devoted work of those who are contributing to the emotional and mental stability of unfortunate children. Our thanks to them is all the greater when we remember the long waiting list of children waiting for admission to the Kew Cottages in Victoria. It is to be hoped, Sir, that it will not be long before a grant will bt made to the mental hygiene authorities who are sorely in need of financial assistance for their building programmes.
Lastly I want to refer to poliomyelitis vaccine. I notice an increase of more than £300,000 in that item. Under the special appropriation, National Welfare Fund, an amount of £255,990 was expended last year. The appropriation for this year is £600,000. On page 1 of the report it is disclosed that during 1960-6! there were 191 confirmed cases of poliomyelitis and that in 1961-62 the number was 511. I read, Sir, that the National Health and Medical Research Council expressed concern that so many young people and children have not yet obtained the protection of Salk vaccine. I should like to ask the Minister whether the increase in the grant is to cover not only the cost of the Sabin vaccine but also the cost of extended publicity on the need for necessary protection.
– I should like to intrude in the debate before the items I have to deal with become too numerous. Senator Sir Walter Cooper asked for information about the increased appropriation for the World Health Organization. The organization itself fixes the contribution for Australia. More than 100 countries are affiliated with the organization. From time to time the organization lays down programmes that it believes are in the best interests of world health. It fixes the contribution which is designed to cover additional travelling and other avenues and services of the organization. One that comes readily to my mind is the problem of drugs that has aroused so much public interest in recent times. The World Health Organization is tackling that matter. It is just a typical example of the work of the organization for which it requires funds.
asked also when the cattle tick subsidy was first made available. Speaking from memory I think it was in 1924. By implication the honorable senator suggested it was never intended that it should continue until 1964. I think that that is a fair assumption for me to make. Senator Arnold also sought infor mation about this subsidy. 1 should like both honorable senators to know that this matter is at present receiving the consideration of the Government. I think it is fair to say that Senator Arnold’s analysis shows a general conception of the work being carried out in this field. Some responsible people think that the grant which is being made available may not be serving a useful purpose. The Government is considering that aspect of the matter. I believe that in the future the requirements in this field might be best served by the establishment of research offices in conjunction with the States. For the benefit of honorable senators interested, I mention that is an aspect of Government thinking to-day. As a matter of fact I have been instructed by the Government to examine this position very carefully with the object of deciding whether the money being spent on control and eradication is being used effectively, or whether we can serve the great cattle industry better by directing our efforts towards research.
– Is this subsidy supplementary to the expenditure of New South Wales or is this the whole subsidy?
– This is the whole subsidy that the Commonwealth has made available.
asked for information about the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. He directed attention to the item of £365,000 compared with an expenditure last year of £232,263. Those figures are there merely for the information of honorable senators. They represent the appropriation and the actual expenditure for the year prior to the setting up of the commission which now acts under its own charter. As honorable senators know the commission now has its own charter, and it is not, with certain qualifications, subject to the same control by the Minister as it was when it was a segment of the Department of Health.
Senator Arnold made some reference to national fitness. It is good to hear him maintaining his interest in this matter, and I should add that from time to time ether honorable senators have expressed similar views on this most important subject. Without speaking in a- derogatory manner in any way I think it is fair to say- that interest had sagged in this project over recent years for reasons that could - not perhaps be easily enumerated, but I believe it is true to say also that to-day there is a quickening of interest and that the movement which is taking a lively interest in national fitness is worthy of every consideration. At this stage, 1 cannot say any more. Suffice to add that the Government is very interested in this subject but it does not want to find itself in the position where it is the only lively interested party. I suggest to those organizations that have interested themselves in national fitness throughout the years that they might well seize the opportunity to display a continuing interest in this very worthy matter. I am hopeful that as time goes on, the Government will reciprocate even more interest.
asked for information concerning increased provision for the Central Medical Planning Committee. This committee has been set up in peacetime to meet a national emergency. It includes medical representatives of the Department of Health, the fighting services and organized professions with representatives of civil defence, the Department of Supply and the Department of Labour and National Service. Its work is carried out by subcommittees dealing with personnel, hospital accommodation, veterinary services, equipment and supplies. The latter subcommittee is assisted by panels on surgical dressings, instruments, pharmaceutical supplies, dental and X-ray equipment. The help of experts in this field has enabled progress to be made establishing a medical blue-print for use in an emergency.
I do not think there is any need for me to elaborate on that explanation. We all abhor the thought of a national calamity in this country or anywhere else, and the Government is entitled to commendation for making preparations to meet any situation that may arise. The organization functions on the basis I have outlined in case we have to meet such a situation.
Senator Breen also asked, for information about Sabin vaccine and referred to the proposed vote of ?600,000 which appears in the Estimates for the first time this year. Previously Salk vaccine requirements were charged against the National Welfare Fund. The Auditor-General in his wisdom suggested that the required amount should be appropriated. . Therefore, the amount appears in the Estimates for the first time this year. The vote of ?600,000 also makes provision for the inclusion of Sabin vaccine which, as honorable senators know, has already arrived in Australia in sufficient quantities to make at least some contribution to an emergency that may arise.
– First, I wish to refer to Division No. 291 - Administrative. I do hope that the Minister for Health is satisfied that the increase in the numbers in his department is consistent with increased efficiency. I expect that I shall be told that he is not increasing the number of public servants in his department just as I was told by another Minister in relation to another department, who then proceeded to point out to me that the increase was in temporary public servants. It does not matter to me whether a public servant is temporary or permanent; he is a body and if more temporary public servants are appointed, that is an increase. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) insisted that he decreased the number of employees in his department.
I cannot understand how, if you decrease the number of workers by 200 or 300, officially their numbers are increased. An increase in staff of 259 in one year is a very considerable increase, and if somebody would bother to check over the departments, we would find that there has been a most deplorable increase in the number of public servants. Apparently, nobody has worried very much and others can take up that point. If we are going to have this increase in staff, let us pray that those engaged are efficient.
I have the greatest admiration for some members of the staff of the Minister for Health. His present Director-General of Health is a top man so far as administration is concerned, but so far as his knowledge of general practice is concerned, he is hopeless because he has not done any.
– He was only superintendent of the Royal Women’s Hospital.
-That shows the ignorance of the Minister.
– He was also in general practice .in Melbourne.
– He was; but to say that he was superintendent of the Royal Women’s Hospital shows the complete and utter ignorance of the Minister. The years that the Director-General of Health spent in general practice were few, and they were not recent. So, if we have an increase in the staff of the Department of Health, let us pray that we do not have a bureaucracy.
I refer to the “ Medical Journal of Australia” of 21st July, 1962, to give a typical example of what happens when bureaucracy runs wild. There is a substance called pilocarpine which is used for treatment of the eyes. Let me stress that it is used mainly in the treatment of a particular disease, chronic glaucoma, which is a very blinding disease and occurs mainly in the elderly. Once a patient is treated with this substance, the treatment has to be continued for life.
The usual strength is 2 to 4 per cent. What happens with the Public Service? This preparation was put on the prescribers’ list with a strength of one-half to 1 per cent. That is a strength that doctors do not use for the treatment of glaucoma. The department allows for the fact that treatment must go on for life by making provision for two repeats! When the supply of the substance is exhausted, the patient must go back to the doctor to get another prescription. Nobody in the Public Service bothers about the patient. He is too remote from the ordinary public servant for his welfare to be considered! So there was a lot of letter-writing and there were many requests and finally, after a lot of trouble, all the doctors were told that they could prescribe this drug in any strength they liked but the Public Service was not making that official. It said, in effect, “ Use it at the strength you need, but keep this fact under your hat “.
Finally, the doctors were allowed to authorize six repeats but only in bottles without stoppers. If you bought a patent eye bottle, you got it with a dropper. A doctor cannot allow a dropper to lie in the dust, which might get in the eyes, so there followed more requests and representations to have this stuff sold in a sterile buffered solution supplied in bottles with stoppers. What do you know? There was a break through. At last, at last we got it. “ But,” said the Public Service, “ do not think you get it so easily. We will show you who is in power here. The doctors, manufacturers and patients all wanted Pilocarpine in strength of 2 to 4 per cent, in a sterile buffered stoppered bottle for chronic glaucoma. So what did the Public Service do? It was ruled that the preparation could be obtained only in the strength of one-half to 1 per cent. It did not matter that the manufacturers were all keyed up to get the preparation on the market in the strength of 2 to 4 per cent., or that the doctors were using it for their patients in the strength of 2 to 4 per cent. No. They could get it only in the strength of one-half to 1 per cent.
– Would the patients die?
– They do not die of glaucoma, but they can go blind. The Department of Health could not let the doctors get away with their request. They asked for a strength of 2 to 4 per cent., so after more requests and more representations, we had the Gilbertian situation of a reply from the Department of Health to this effect: “ Right! You want 2 to 4 per cent, and you do not like a strength of onehalf to 1 per cent. We will give you 3 per cent.”. The fact is that no one uses Pilocarpine at 3 per cent. If the Minister was not the Minister for Health but just an ordinary man on a farm and I told him this story, he would be indignant and say it was fantastic that such things could go on. But now he is the Minister, he will not direct his department to take action. Anyhow, 3 per cent, was the percentage allowed. That meant more letters, more writing. At last, we had it at 2 per cent, to 4 per cent., but just when every one was happy, a new drug appeared.
Let me at once congratulate the Department of Health. This new miotic took only twelve months to get on the P.B.A., but it is a drug that has to be used for the rest of the patient’s life. Probably, it is dearer. The Health Department said, “ No repeats “, so every time a patient wants more of the drug he has to go to his eye specialist and pay his money. It costs the Commonwealth at least 6s. each time a patient wants the drug. But we do not worry about the convenience of the patient. Why should we worry about him? There are more letters, and at last everything is right. But are all these letters and all this hardship necessary? Do we have such unintelligent people on the staff of the department that they cannot see these things and cannot achieve some cooperation with the doctors? It is not only the doctors who are concerned; it is also the patients. Do those in the department ever think of the patient - the end result? I can say quite candidly, “ No, they do not “. The main consideration is what is most convenient for the Department of Health.
Let us take, for instance, the P.B.A. book which the department has issued to every doctor. We receive amendments every twelve months and have to rewrite it. Numbers appear alongside the drugs, for easy reference. I know that the answer to any criticism that is made is that the act requires this to be done, but if a doctor wants to prescribe drug No. 771, he finds that it does not come after No. 770. That would be a shocking thing. If it did, the doctor would be able to find it. We see No. 769, then No. 811, then No. 814, then No. 770, then No. 804, and at last we have it - No. 771. I am simply emphasizing the absurdity of this book in order to show what goes on. I know the answer is that the chemists want the drugs in that order. It does not matter that the doctors may want to make quick reference to them. They will have to go through and find them. This is not a real point of complaint; I raise it to show what goes on when you have bureaucracy running wild.
When we refer to the schedule of salaries and allowances at page 192 of the Estimates we see that there is to be an increase of 259 officers this year. I do not know whether the Minister is related to Parkinson, whether he is anti-Parkinson or whether he is a disciple of Parkinson. He does not tell us. Let me refer to the case of a pathologist in Hobart. He is a very good man and I am glad he has been promoted, because I have a lot of time for him. He is a very good pathologist. You cannot get pathologists if you ask for them. They are terribly hard to get. So, we remove this pathologist from Hobart. True, there are two pathologists in private practice, but that is beside the point. There is still a vacancy for a pathologist to be filled and therefore the need must be there. The department sent the pathologist abroad for six months - I suppose as a reward - to study pathology, so that the knowledge he acquires will be useful when he comes back to an administrative job in the central administration of the Department of Health in Canberra. I suppose he will know something about pathology laboratories, his knowledge having been acquired at our expense. We have taken this man out of his job, although pathologists are in short supply, and propose to put him into the central administration in Canberra, leaving no one in Hobart. That is a mistake. The department has increased the staff by splitting that man’s job. He ran the administration and the pathology, but there is now a doctor administrator. So, we now have an increase of the staff but no pathologist. That is the important point. It would not really matter if the doctor administrator were not there. We could carry on quite well without him. I am all for increased staff if you are getting efficiency and something is being done.
Let. me refer to a reply that I have received to a question I asked about the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council on smoking and the action taken by the Government on recommendations of the council. The answer was to the effect that the National Health and Medical Research Council Advertising Committee had the matter under consideration. For how many months must it be under consideration? Perhaps the committee does not meet. Perhaps it is too expensive for it to meet. However, in May last it passed a resolution, but in the middle of October the Government was still considering what it was going to do about the matter. The position is the same with the Minister’s reply to my question about distaval. He said, by interjection, that he did not know that it had been condemned in May, and his officers were still considering it.
In the administration of his department the Minister should ensure that every one of his doctors is compelled to do a general practice post-graduate course each year so that he will know something about what is going on in medicine. The officers sit in the offices. I know they are re-organizing and are getting new staff and new appointments at the top, but they are valueless, when they have to deal with 8,000 general practitioners and 12,000 doctors in the Commonwealth, if they do not know the problems of the doctors and their patients. Both are equally important. Unless the doctors are allowed to go out amongst the people and find out what is new and what is the general thought on various matters, they are not of much use. Take polio vaccine, for example. General practitioners received a screed saying, “You must not use it with the triple antigen”. I do not know how many doctors have administered the two together and have given the injection as one injection, but according to the department they are not allowed to do so. Many doctors do it because they know it is all right, but the screed says they must not do it, and nothing has ever happened about it.
Another point in connexion with the administration of the department concerns the salaries paid to the officers. This is a very pertinent point for the States. The States cannot afford the salaries paid by the Commonwealth. Is it possible for the Minister, at the next conference of Ministers for Health, to mention the need for uniformity in salaries? The Commonwealth raises the salaries of its officers and the States have to raise those of their officers. The Commonwealth again raises the salaries, and the spiral goes on. I suppose every one is happy. They are all getting increased salaries, and members of Parliament can say, “We must have increased salaries, too “. I do not suppose any one would do anything about it. Why stop this happy merry-go-round, even though it is increasing costs?
– Do they get margins for skill?
– It would be beyond the Department of Health to think of something like that. The department infuriates me with its stupidity. To show how stupid it is, I point out that a pathologist is not yet classified as a specialist. Will the Minister deny that, or agree that it is correct? Although pathologists are very hard to come by, and although the argument has been going on for six years, I do not think that the department regards the pathologist as a specialist, or if it does so, it is only in the last few months that he has been so regarded. Why cannot we have some uniformity in salaries? Admittedly, the smaller States must pay more because you cannot get a pathologist or a psychiatrist to go to a small State where he cannot mix with his confreres. That is really a hardship, and therefore he should be paid more money for having to live in comparatively isolated areas.
I want to make passing reference to the National Fitness Council, which is referred to in Division No. 291, item 04. I wish to say, as did Senator Arnold, that the council does good work.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I refer to Division No. 293. Item 06, under Administrative Expenses, relates to the purchase and analysis of drugs. I note that an appropriation of f 8,000 is proposed. Last year, the appropriation was £12,000 and expenditure £8,481. If the Minister would be so kind as to give it, I should like some information as to just how this money is expended. Is it expended on testing drugs, the side effects of which might be suspect? Is it spent on testing drugs such as those which have been the subject of criticism in recent months? If not, in what way is it spent?
I come now to item 07 of sub-division 2, relating to an appropriation of £8,000 for Publicity - Pamphlets. The amount actually spent last year was only £6,934. I take it that this relates to the publication of some of the pamphlets issued by the Department of Health detailing the activities of the department and outlining some of the entitlements of the general public. If it does, then I suggest that there should be an extension rather than a reduction of these pamphlets, especially when one examines the expenditure on other items. For instance, it is proposed to spend £103,000 this year on office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing. Last year, £40,000 less was provided for this purpose, and I think that calls for some explanation.
This brings me to a point that I have raised on almost every occasion on which we have discussed the Estimates Papers. I refer to my protest at the lack of information available to honorable senators as to how the various amounts are arrived at. Obviously there is a reason for the increase of £40,000 for office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing, but we are left to guess at the reason. The only way in which we can ascertain the reason for these things is by probing the Minister, who in turn probes the officers of his department and, by this tortuous process, the Senate finally becomes informed as to why this rather large amount is sought for this item. Where there are large differences between one year and another I do not think it is asking too much to ask that some explanatory note be issued with the Estimates Papers. If this course were adopted, honorable senators on both sides of the chamber would not be faced with the necessity for asking questions which they feel they must ask for fear that something which should not be allowed to creep through is agreed to. No doubt in 99 cases out of 100 there is a reasonable explanation of the item concerned.
– Or an explanation that appears to be reasonable.
– Or, as Senator Wright says, an explanation that appears to be reasonable. When we remember the amount of matter that is fed to honorable senators, and no doubt to members in another place, over a period of twelve months, matter which is of no earthly use to us, and about which 1 hope to have something to say under the appropriate heading, surely it would not be expecting too much to ask that this document, which contains some 260 pages, have added to it 100 pages containing explanations of some of those items which obviously need explaining. If the explanation of a particular item seemed reasonable, we could accept it. In those cases where we considered the explanation unsatisfactory, we could query it, and I am confident that the adoption of my suggestion would make the work of the Senate much easier. There would certainly be more justification for that information than there is for much of the ridiculous matter that is fed to senators in an unending stream throughout the year.
– You are suggesting explanatory notes like those circulated by the Minister for the Navy?
– Yes. 1 am suggesting that we have some circulated explanation of such proposed expenditure as that relating to item 07. Although the present publicity by way of pamphlets is important, I think other publicity could be engaged in by the Department of Health to the benefit of the health and welfare of the people of Australia. Until we probe for ourselves, we have no way of knowing to what many of the proposed expenditures relate and therefore are diffident about offering suggestions. 1 do not want what I have said to be taken as criticism of the Minister. It is not. He is only following a procedure which appears to have become established over a long period of years. The attitude seems to be that what was good for one year is equally good for the next. I do not think it is good enough for now. When we are asked to deal with matters relating to public health we should be given much more information. We have not available to us the same facilities for gaining information as Senator Turnbull or Senator Dittmer who, being medical men, have a far greater understanding of the impact of many of these things than does the mere layman. If we were given more information relating to many matters it would make consideration of the Estimates Papers much easier and perhaps more interesting than the present procedure of parry and probe. It would certainly avoid much of the time now wasted in asking questions of Ministers.
I come now to item 09 which relates to payments to the States for administration of the Tuberculosis Agreement. I note that the appropriation sought this year is only £5,000 greater than the amount provided last year. I do not know whether the Minister can inform me on the matter, but it seems that in the last twelve months there has been a fairly steep increase in the number of reported tuberculosis cases in Australia. If that is true, then we should have some explanation of why the amount sought this year is only £5,000 more than the amount appropriated and expended last year on this extremely important work of stamping out tuberculosis. The Minister might also tell us whether the extra £5.000 is adequate. 1 should like to know the view of his department on the reported sharp increase in the incidence (fi tuberculosis in
Australia. I leave the matter there for the time being and hope that the Minister can give us some information on the points I have raised.
– Before answering the points raised by honorable senators, I should like to correct a wrong impression I gave when answering an interjection by Senator Wright. Senator Wright asked whether some of the States contributed towards the eradication of cattle tick. I said, in effect, that as far as I knew, the Commonwealth was the sole contributor to this work. That is not so. I have been informed that the New South Wales Government makes a £1 for £1 contribution to the fund.
Senator Arnold sought some information which I omitted to give. He asked about the National Welfare Fund. He sought information on the total cost to the fund. The estimates for this year are: Medical benefits, £11,900,000; medical benefits for pensioners, £5,196,000; hospital benefits, £24,118,000; pharmaceutical benefits, £31,220,000; pharmaceutical benefits for pensioners, £10,071,000; tuberculosis benefits, maintenance, surveys and analyses, £5,680,000; nutrition for children, £3,905,000; miscellaneous, £713,000; departmental votes, £8,967,000 - a total of £101,770,000.
Senator Turnbull raised the matter of increasing the staff of the department and, in passing, made some reference to another department. We have noted the honorable senator’s continuing interest in this matter. It appears, at least by inference from his comments, that departmental officers are not as efficient as they should be and that the Government is increasing their numbers to overtake the lag caused through inefficiency. That is not so. It is very interesting to have a look at the increases in the staff of the Tasmanian Minister for Health over recent years. The numbers have varied as follows: -
– Where was this?
– In Tasmania. These were the numbers employed by the Health Department under a certain Minister. In 1956, there were 856; in 1957, 875; in 1958, 895. Over that period there was an increase of 38.1 per cent.
– In ten years, not in one year.
– Does the experience of the honorable senator, as Minister for Health in Tasmania, prompt him to suggest to the Government that the staff of the Department of Health or any other department is not efficient? He knows, or he should know, that the expansion of our services, for which he is arguing all the time, requires additional qualified staff. We are obtaining additional staff as rapidly as possible. The Public Service Board in Canberra is the deciding factor in regard to the numbers and classifications required to meet the needs of the department.
Not being satisfied with casting aspersions on the staff of the department, he tackles the Director-General of Health. Of him, the honorable senator says, in effect, “ Yes, he is a good fellow, but hopeless as far as general practice is concerned “.
– It is a good thing that he did not attack the Minister.
– I would far rather he attacked the Minister, because the Minister can speak for himself in the matter and is elected to take criticism. That is what democracy stands for in this country. People in the National Parliament who attack departmental officers and not Ministers do not show themselves in the light that one would expect. The honorable senator said, in reply to my interjection, “Yes, he was superintendent of the women’s hospital - a gynaecologist “, as if that were completely insignificant. Of course he was superintendent of that hospital and a very distinguished one. Of course, he was in private practice as a general practitioner on his own. Of course, he was Director-General of Army Medical Services of the Commonwealth of Australia. He drew great lustre to himself and to the armed forces of this country as a result of his services during war time and peace time. I resent any implication at all that that gentleman is not capable of carrying out the job that has been allotted to him. If the honorable senator wants to criticize the Director-General, he should do it under his breath.
– Now, do not be nasty.
– I am not. I am just being factual and fair. The honorable senator went on with a good deal of mumbojumbo about repeats. After he had blown himself out and expended his energies, he told us that he knew the answers. Of course, he knew them, but this was an opportunity to show his great knowledge at the expense of us poor, insignificant lay people. I want to remind him that for twelve years this Government had the guidance of two very distinguished medical practitioners in the office of Minister for Health. The late Sir Earle Page was a world figure in medicine, and Dr. Cameron added lustre to his name because of his contributions. The honorable senator seems to forget another factor when he addresses us as just insignificant laymen in these matters. For some three or four years now, we have had in this chamber a very distinguished doctor in his own right, Senator Dittmer. No one can suggest that he has not taken a lively interest in health matters. No one can suggest that he has not sought an opportunity to criticize when he thought that criticism was necessary. I would be less than fair if I did not say that he has always been constructive and that he has always been prepared to come to me and say, “ I think I might help you with this matter “. I have accepted and welcomed his assistance on more than one occasion.
– You voted to throw him out.
– Of course, I did. That was not a national health matter. We put him out for the benefit of his own health.
asked for information concerning additional expenditure under Division No. 293, sub-division 2, item 02. The additional expenditure expected is ?43,883. Before proceeding to say how it is made up, I should like the honorable senator to know that I am tremendously impressed by his submission concerning the presentation of explanations. We shall have a look at the possibility of presenting, in the future for the benefit of honorable senators, more information in printed form than I can convey per medium of my explanations. My department was interested in the production of the Department of the Navy and thought that it was an excellent idea. I do not mind confessing that we intend to do a steal of that type of pamphlet for the benefit of honorable senators.
– You have some of the information in other documents, of course.
– Yes. Information is also made available in our annual report, but I admit that honorable senators should be given specific detail. The first matter to which I refer relates to repeat authorizations. Two supplies of these forms were required during 1962-63. None was required in 1961-62. It was a matter of timing. We missed at the end of 1961-62, so the expenditure came into 1962-63. That accounts for ?20,000 of the additional ?43,883. The provision for the production and distribution of the “ Prescribers’ Journal “, aimed at wise prescribing, is, due to rising costs, ?8,000. Honorable senators may recall that recently I produced in the Senate a copy of the “ Prescribers’ Journal “. It has been taken from the work of an independent authority in England for the benefit of the medical profession, and on a monthly basis it covers the latest trends in prescribing. I believe that that is all to the good. Reception of the journal has been most encouraging. An additional amount of ?6,500 is required for the printing of comprehensive repatriation price lists and checkers’ aids. An additional ?5,000 is required for printing and stationery, due to the expanding activities of the department, and there are several other items of less importance that I shall furnish to the honorable senator if he so desires.
Senator Toohey also asked, for information concerning the purchase and analysis of drugs. I take it that his query was about the decreased expenditure and whether that might be an indication that we are not pursuing this policy as vigorously as we might. This item represents expenditure on the purchase and analysis of drugs under the Therapeutic Substances Act. The estimate is based on a forecast of actual cash requirements being slightly less than the amount required for 1961-62. An arrangement has been made with the Department of the Treasury to permit liabilities to be entered into in excess of the sum of ?8,000. Such an arrangement is necessary under this item where, due to circumstances peculiar to the testing of drugs, approximately only one-third of commitments entered into finally result in expenditure being made by the Commonwealth. We have an arrangement with the Treasury under which we may exceed that amount if and when required.
Senator Toohey also asked for information about the tuberculosis problem. He suggested that the additional sum of ?5,000 provided in the Estimates would not be adequate to meet the needs of the campaign. That ?5,000, which brings the total appropriation to ?91,000, provides for the administrative requirements of the States. Honorable senators will recall that the States make their contributions up to the amount in the base year, which was 1947 or 1948 - I speak subject to correction - and the Commonwealth pays all the costs in excess of the base year amount. The ?5,000 that is included in the Estimates is not actually related to the campaign as such, but is an appropriation for the administrative services rendered by the States in pursuance of the campaign.
– Would that include treatment?
.- I rise to ask Dr. Wade - I mean Senator Wade - a few questions.
– He has been weighed and not found wanting.
– He is a very efficient Minister. I compliment him on his efforts to answer questions. He has a facile tongue and a good command of the English language. I am always pleased when he rises to his feet because I know that he will do his best to inform honorable senators. That is what I want him to do on this occasion.
I refer to Division No. 291, subdivision 3, item 03 - Medical research. The story of medicine is one of horror and of humour, and it is one of disgust and of great heroism. Any one who has read Mathison’s book *’ The Eternal Truth “ or the book by the two Letts knows the story of medicine. It is a remarkable fact that throughout the ages man has poured into his body all kinds of broths, brews, pills and potions. Man has ground up bones from all parts of the human frame and the animal frame and eaten them and has drunk animal and human blood.
The medical world has had all kinds of cranks. It has them to-day. The medical profession to-day has some of the most ignorant men that it is possible to meet; but in the medical fraternity we also have some of the finest characters in the world - men who have dedicated their lives to humanity. We take off our hats to them. However, we should not believe everything that they tell us just because they are doctors. Nor should we believe everything that Senator Wade or the Department of Health tells us.
Only a few days ago I read that Cato the Elder had no time at all for doctors. He had one special medicine and that was cabbage water. He drank it all day long. When his family were sick he gave them cabbage water - and they all died. In the book by Mathison I read the story of King Charles II.
– I think somebody else might have been drinking cabbage water.
– I did not hear what Senator Wright said, but I suppose it must have been clever, seeing it came from a representative of Tasmania. I read that King Charles II. was taken sick in the barber’s chair. He was taken to the palace and either nine, or was it nineteen doctors looked after him. They bled him; they cupped him; they blistered him; they gave him 101 different medicines; they even encased his feet in hens’ dung, according to this writer. He was given enemas several times. The doses of medicine were repeated. The doctors went into consultation. Then they came back and used all their remedies on the poor old fellow again and again. He died too.
I should like to know what this item of medical research covers. I know that the Minister administers a dozen and one different sections and when he receives reports he is befogged by a mass of long words that he does not understand. But I suppose each section of the department knows what it is doing. I wonder whether this medical research is real research into the effects of medicine on the human body. For instance, does the research in respect of food and diet deal with the effects of food and diet on people? I have referred to this matter before and I remember a speech that Senator Branson made years ago about children’s teeth. Does this medical research deal with that problem? Australians are alleged to have almost the worst teeth in the world.
– That is completely right.
– Senator Branson, who agrees with me, made a splendid speech on this subject a few years ago. I still have a copy of it in my files. I often refer to it. Have we medical men in the Chinese sense? In China years ago a medical man was punished if people became unhealthy, because his job was to keep them healthy.
I take it that the idea behind this medical research is to investigate the use of medicines and their effect on the human body in order to keep people healthy. Is there any government organization that deals with the human body before it gets sick? Why does the human body get sick? Why are our hospitals full of people with all kinds of diseases? Sir James Orr - a prominent medical man who was president of the British’ Medical Association on one or more occasions - said that the human body would cure 90 per cent, of its ills itself if it was cared for properly and the various organs of the body were allowed to function reasonably and’ successfully. Of course, if we did not fill our carcases with whisky, beer and all kinds of deleterious materials, I do not suppose that we would have half the sickness that we have.
Is medical research being conducted to find out what cures other than by drugs are possible? Must we believe that only by drugs can we make people well and happy? Is it not a fact that doctors often experiment with their patients? I am not saying anything against that because they are trying to get their patients well. One week a doctor will give a patient one medicine, and the next week he will give the patient another. We all know the effects of phenacetin, a drug that has been given to thousands of people throughout the world.
Now we find that it has a very evil effect on the human body and on unborn children.
– You are talking about distaval, not phenacetin.
– The doctor has corrected me, but you are all intelligent senators and I know that you will understand.
Does medical research deal with anything besides drugs and medicines and their uses? Have we any organization now, or is there any likelihood of any organization being set up, say, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Australian Medical Association, to investigate the real cause of many of the diseases from which the Australian people suffer? We know the cause of bad teeth in our children. What are we doing to overcome it? Night after night we see little children being used in television studios to advocate and to boost the sale of a lot of pop which poisons them. A little child sings and receives a present of a bottle of soft drink. Most soft drinks are detrimental to the human body. Everyone knows that too much of it has a worse effect than has beer. Unfortunately vested interests in this country are very powerful and it is very difficult to overcome that power. We have seen the march of events in America where the drug companies have become so powerful and so rich that they dominate the medical world. Perhaps they will reach the same stage in Australia.
Has medical research devised any means of overcoming disease by sensible health measures or dietary methods rather than by pouring into the body the dope which is poured into thousands of people to-day in the form of drugs and patent medicines?
– I refer to Division No. 292, item 04 of subdivision 2, which relates to the payment to States and medical practitioners for services rendered. The Auditor-General’s report on the Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure for 1961-62 indicated that a total of £15,309,421 was paid from the National Welfare Fund that year for medical benefits. Of this amount £10,911,483 was paid to registered medical benefits organizations and £4,397,938 was paid to doctors in respect of the pensioner medical service. In his report the AuditorGeneral stated -
A Medical Services Committee of Inquiry has been established in each State, under powers contained in the Act, to inquire into and report on any matter referred to the committee by the Minister or the Director-General, in respect of or arising out of the services or conduct of medical practitioners in connexion with the Pensioner Medical Service. During 1961-62 a number of references was made to the committees. As a result the Minister issued twelve reprimands for apparent over-visiting and claims ranging from £68 to £3,544 and totalling £26,008 were disallowed. ls this system of reprimands meeting with success? I have read of men in the legal profession being suspended from practice for not playing the game and observing the ethics of their profession. Accountants can be dealt with by law. It is most important that a standard of conduct should be established and maintained on the very highest level in a profession which traditionally enjoys such a high status in- our society. Will the Minister give some details on what constitutes a reprimand? Is there any follow-up? Are the doctors so reprimanded excluded from future participation in the pensioner medical scheme? Does the Australian Medical Association take any action in cases in which reprimands are imposed by the department?
I refer now to the provision in the National Welfare Fund for registered hospital benefits organizations. The Estimates provide an allocation of £22,000,000 for this purpose. The large number of hospital and medical benefits schemes now operating in Australia seem to be duplicating functions which, after so many years, could be more closely co-ordinated. Very many fine edifices are being built in the Commonwealth at present and in many cases one of the medical benefits organizations is the sponsor. The original purpose for which these schemes were established was to give to the subscribers, with the aid of the government subsidy, the best possible service at the lowest possible price. I cannot understand how such a wide margin pf profit can be created as to finance these huge buildings. After all, with all its ramifications the Department of Health usually occupies an unostentatious part of a Commonwealth building. Its offices are moderately well equipped and the services which it renders to the public are appreciated, lt seems to get along quite well despite the occasional criticism which is levelled at it. But why do the medical benefits organizations show off by spending the sick people’s contributions in competitive advertising, in the distribution of literature, in building these huge edifices and in outside investments? I believe that this opens up a grave anomaly in our moral approach to those who are sick. I know that the Government was opposed to a Commonwealth scheme and that the present scheme was put forward as an alternative. Private enterprise, in its usual way, when it cannot compete with public enterprise likes a subsidy, and in most cases, if it has not a monopoly, it needs a subsidy. That is the way private enterprise seems to be going in modern business. It is not right, but it is generally accepted.
I do not think the sick people of Australia should have to pay for the extravagance of the medical benefits funds which build ostentatious edifices. This waste prevents the payment of better rates of benefit to those people who pay in their humble mite every week or month to assist them in a time of sickness and uncertainty.
– I rise first of all to ask for information about salaries and allowances payable to officers of the Department of Health. I refer in particular to the salaries of officers on the unattached list pending suitable vacancies. The proposed vote this year is £12,401 which has been increased from an appropriation of £5,131 last year. Who are these officers on the unattached list pending suitable vacancies? I notice that under Division No. 293 - Health Services - sub-division 1, item 02 separate provision is made for temporary and casual employees. That conveys to me the knowledge that at least these officers on the unattached list are not temporary and casual employees. How long do they remain on this list and what vacancies are they supposed to fill? Possibly the Minister can clear this matter up.
While I am referring to health services let me mention the item dealing with the salaries of officers on retirement leave and payment in lieu. This line appears three times on page 192 of the Estimates and I notice that on each occasion there is a reduction in the proposed vote this year compared with the appropriation last year. Does the Government anticipate that fewer officers will retire this year or is there to be a reduction in the amount paid to officers? I should also like to know whether it is the policy of the department to make payments in lieu of leave to any great extent.
Secondly, I wish to address a few remarks possibly to Division No. 291 - Administrative, or to item 08 of sub-division 2 of Division No. 293, Administrative Expenses.I refer to the Northfield Hospital in South Australia and the administration of the National Health Act as it applies to that hospital. I raised this matter on the adjournment approximately a fortnight ago, and I must thank the Minister for forwarding to me a letter setting out the full details of the consideration that this matter has received and stating the reason why certain wards in the hospital are not recognized under the special section of the act at the present time. Unfortunately I left the letter in Adelaide, having given it to a certain person over there.
In my opinion the interpretation of the act is involved in this matter, and I should like to inquire whether the act is being correctly applied in South Australia. I am in the happy position of adopting a democratic attitude and of being able to question the Minister instead of the head of the department. I mentioned on the adjournment the case of a woman in the Northfield Hospital who was not obtaining medical benefits. Since publicity has been given to this matter in Adelaide I have had numerous letters telling of other people who have had similar experiences.
Before dealing with the act itself let me say that I am of the opinion that the hospitals associations are not all blameless. Mrs. Edwards, to whom I referred, is suffering from a disease which, according to the rules of the organization, should entitle her to standard benefits. The question of a special benefit would not come into this matter in normal circumstances. Unfortunately, before being treated for her present disease she was treated for a disease which was existing prior to her joining the hospital benefits association. In order to enable her to receive some benefit on the first occasion she was placed under the special section of the act. In accordance with the rules of the association, having been put under the special section of the act, she can be taken out of that section only with the consent of the association concerned, no matter from what disease she suffers subsequently. This particular hospitals association, by a declaration of policy, is not prepared to take any one out of the special section of the act subsidized by the Government if the person has a chronic illness. If subsequently the patient contracts an illness of long duration he or she is not granted the standard benefits. This is a matter which the Government should examine. The Government should consider whether an organization should have rules that permit it to act in such a manner to the detriment of a person who has paid into the association for twelve years, and in other cases up to twenty years.
I wish to deal now with the special section of the act in relation to the Northfield Hospital generally. It must be realized that a hospital association does not pay medical benefits to those who are over 65 or who are suffering from a disease they had prior to joining the association. However, if they are in an association and they come within those categories they may be entitled to benefits under what is now section 82 of the act as amended in 1959. Section 82e (h) provides - in the case of a registered hospital benefits organization, hospital fund benefit is not payable in respect of a period during which a special account contributor was a patient in an institution unless -
Therefore those who are entitled to benefits are not allowed payments out of the special fund unless the organization to which they subscribe is recognized by the DirectorGeneral of Health for special account purposes.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was referring to the application of hospital benefits to patients in the Northfield infectious diseases hospital in Adelaide. I referred to the fact that benefits were not payable from the special account to a patient in the institution unless the hospital was recognized by the DirectorGeneral of Health for special account purposes. The National Health Act provides under Section 82e (2.) that -
The Director-General shall recognize, for special account purposes-
It is not optional - an institution that is a public hospital . . .
Northfield is not a hospital but is a ward of the Royal Adelaide Hospital which is a public hospital. The Director-General has no option because under the act he must recognize Northfield for special account purposes. The section of the act that I have cited continues - or an approved private hospital . . .
Honorable senators will notice that a private hospital has to be approved, but a public hospital does not have to be approved. The section of the act continues, however - unless it is, or is in his opinion in the nature of, a benevolent home, convalescent home, home for aged persons or rest home;
Unless it is one of those and if it is an approved private hospital or a public hospital, a patient in it must be eligible to receive payment from the special account. Honorable senators will notice that the act provides that the payment must be made unless the institution is an approved private hospital or, in the opinion of the DirectorGeneral, is in the nature of a benevolent institution. Therefore, if it is not a benevolent institution, convalescent home or home for the aged in the opinion of the DirectorGeneral, the benefit is not payable. Surely the responsibility of proving this is on the Director-General and not on the institution.
In reply to me, the Minister for Health said in effect that at the time this matter was considered, 80 per cent, of the patients were age pensioners. That is not the criterion by which we should judge whether they were entitled to special benefits or not. It does not matter if all of them were age pensioners. The question is whether this institution is a convalescent home, and the Director-General has to establish that it is a convalescent home if the patients are not to be eligible for benefits from the special account. The fact that the majority of the patients were age pensioners is not a reason for depriving them of benefits. They must get recognition for special benefits automatically unless, in the opinion of the Director-General, Northfield is a benevolent institution or a convalescent home.
Obviously also, the Director-General must give some reasons for not approving the institution. He should give some certificate to state that he does not recognize the wards. The State Director-General of Health in South Australia, Mr. Rollason, has declared that the patients in these wards are getting the normal treatment that they would get in a public hospital such as the Royal Adelaide Hospital, and as Northfield is part of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, it does not have to be approved. Therefore, the payment of benefits should be made unless the Director-General of Health can demonstrate that the patients are not getting the treatment they should get or would get in a public hospital. I say that the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to this hospital is incorrect.
The Minister has stated in correspondence that the position is being reviewed on further application and on the request of the State, because the State is considering the further separation or distribution of patients in the hospital. But that is not the relevant question under the act. According to the National Health Act, the question is not whether the institution has been approved by the Director-General but whether it has been disapproved by him, and if it is disapproved he must give reasons. He must establish that the institution is a convalescent home or a rest home or a home for aged persons. He has stated that Northfield comes under this category because, at one time, 80 per cent, of the patients were age pensioners. That is not the test. The test is what treatments they were getting in the hospital. The secretary of the Department of Health in South Australia has said that they were getting the treatment they would get ordinarily in the Royal Adelaide Hospital and under the act they should get the benefits. They are not getting the benefits and it is a wrong administration of the act in respect of the wards at Northfield.
This goes much further than the isolated patients I could name. Every patient at the section is entitled to some benefits. Even if patients are not entitled to a special benefit by virtue of being in a particular hospital which is not recognized by the Government, it could be that the nature of the treatment the individual patient needs would justify him or her coming under this section of the act.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– by leave - I would point out to the Senate that the statement I am about to read is in the exact terms of the statement now being read in the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The Senate will realize, therefore, that where the word “ I “ is used, it refers to the Prime Minister and not to me.
The Prime Ministers’ Conference which began in London on 10th September was, in its own way, an historic event. I can well remember the time when there were five Prime Ministers sitting around the table. On this occasion, no less than sixteen nations were directly represented, most of them by Prime Ministers, but two of them by Ministers. Those who enjoyed direct and full membership of the conference were the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Malaya, Ceylon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanganyika, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus, while, following practice established in the past, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was represented by the Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky. In addition, such countries as Malta, Singapore and Uganda were represented by their Prime Ministers, sitting as observers. This was therefore the largest Prime Ministers’ Conference in history.
We met in Marlborough House, the famous palace designed by Christopher Wren. We met, therefore, in a place which was, itself, full of history, and old history at that, but we were making new history. Out in Pall Mall there were many people standing about with placards and banners, most of which expressed opposition to the Common Market. The press gave great space to the proceedings, most of the newspapers being, as far as I could judge, strongly in favour of Britain’s entry into the Common Market.
Now, in so large and diverse a gathering, it would not be reasonable to expect any high measure of unanimity. We were met to consider a great economic problem which is also a great political problem. But, on the economic side, there is an extraordinary mixture of interests. The countries of Asia were largely concerned with such commodities as tea, cotton textiles, jute goods, and other products of their developing industries; the African countries with tropical products; the West Indian countries with tropical products, including sugar, in which, of course, Australia has a very material and indeed essential interest. Canada, Australia and New Zealand were largely concerned with temperate foodstuffs, with raw materials, including certain metals, and with manufactures. Australia was also concerned with the way in which the products of Papua-New Guinea would be treated, including such products as copra and coconut oil. The countries of Asia were made offers which included the negotiation of special trade treaties between them and the European Economic Community. The African and West Indian countries were offered associate status under the Treaty of Rome, although most of them expressed an unwillingness to accept it. One has only to mention these problems even briefly to realize that we were not discussing, at any given moment, any particular commodity in which we all had an interest; it became increasingly important to divide the proceedings into committee stages in which the nations interested in particular commodities could take part.
Under these circumstances, it is not so remarkable that we failed to produce an agreed statement on all of the economic matters involved, as it is that we were able to produce a communique’ at all.
I should say at once that the conference did not produce anything particularly new. Yet I do think it quite important that certain of its features should be put on record. Mr. Macmillan, in opening the conference, made a speech of great lucidity, a speech which expressed views which clearly he held very strongly. I thought that he made it quite clear that the Government of the United Kingdom had come to the conclusion that entry into the European Economic Community was of essential importance to Great Britain for both political and economic reasons. He stated quite explicitly that Great Britain could not expect to have any steady influence on the formulation of a community policy from the outside. He thought it reasonable to suppose that if Great Britain were a member of the community, its influence would be important and might be decisive. He thought that if Great Britain remained outside the community, it would be inevitable that the realities of power would cause the United States to attach increasing weight to the views and interests of The Six and other countries who might accede to them. He thought it inevitable that the United States and the community would concert policy on major issues without the same regard for British views and interests as present relationships with Washington afford. He felt quite clearly that to lose influence, both in Washington and Europe, would seriously detract from British standing and would greatly impair the usefulness of Great Britain to the Commonwealth. 1 need not elaborate these matters. It is clear - and we should conduct all our own examination on this footing - that the Government of the United Kingdom has worked hard on the problem and has, under present circumstances, come to the conclusion that entry into the community is something which must be achieved for the future of Great Britain and, in its view, the future of the free world.
As honorable members know, we have never assumed to sit in judgment on this point. We see the arguments quite plainly, and we appreciate, quite soberly, their weight. Yet, as every Prime Minister at the conference agreed, the ultimate decision on these matters will be one for the United Kingdom and not for us. I will return to this matter at a later stage in order to express with more particularity the views which I offered on behalf of Australia.
On the economic side, Mr. Macmillan said that his colleagues and he felt sure that the consequences of joining the Common Market would benefit Britain from the economic angle. This, again, as it related to Britain, was a matter for their decision. As I said in my final remarks at the conference, we could not sit in judgment on that issue because there must be a mass of economic arguments for consideration, pro and con, with which we are not acquainted but which have, no doubt, been taken into account by British Ministers. It would therefore be as wrong for us to be offering an uninformed approval as it would be quite wrong for us to offer a blank opposition to the decision which, in principle, they have made.
Towards the end of his opening speech, Mr. Macmillan made a point to which I later on referred myself. It is a point of considerable moment when we come to consider the effect that British joining will have on the existing structure of the Commonwealth. He recognized that, on the political side, the community will either break up or grow stronger. This, of course, is quite true. I am not aware of any history of confederations or political associations in which there has not been either a tendency to break up or a tendency to become more concerted. I know of no example of such an association which merely stood still. Recognizing this, Mr. Macmillan said that he believes that the European Community would be more likely to develop and to grow in political strength than to fall apart.
The Prime Minister was followed by Mr. Heath, the Lord Privy Seal, who is the principal negotiator in these matters with the community. Mr. Heath gave us, with great lucidity and care, an account of the progress in the negotiations in all their various fields. That he has been unflagging in concentrated hard work and devotion is quite clear. We all had a great respect for him and his work.
In the case of the Asian countries and the African countries, considerable progress had occurred in negotiations. In the case of ourselves and Canada and New Zealand, the progress made has been extremely limited. In our own case, for example, there have been considerable discussions about world commodity agreements, with particular reference to wheat. But on the other large matters that concern us, there was no progress to be reported. This means that in the negotiations which are now being resumed, very important Australian interests will be under consideration in relation to meat, dairy products, processed fruit, sugar, metals and so on. In other words, it would have been impossible for any Australian Prime Minister to give a general benediction to the British proposal to enter Europe, because we will not know for some time yet the terms that are to be secured for these important export commodities of ours. Until we know those terms, we will not be in a position to size up the effects for us of the bargain that is made.
Having said these things, I would like to say something more particularly about our approach to what I will call the Commonwealth problem. I endeavour to analyse the matter in this way: Did the United Kingdom expect Australia, in a matter so full of implications for her, and with so many factors as yet entirely unsolved, to pronounce a general benediction on the enterprise? This, I said, was, of course, completely out of the question. Should we, going to the other extreme, object in principle to British entry? Should we simplify the problem by saying that whatever the conditions might be, Great Britain should not enter the European Community? Again I said that we could not possibly put ourselves in the position of objecting in principle, even though we had reservations in respect of the possible implications for the Commonwealth itself. But those reservations would not lead us into a position of blind opposition. The whole decision was one of historic and almost revolutionary importance. It would fall for decision by the Mother Nation, a nation of fifty million people, of great power and prestige and experience. It would not, under these circumstances be appropriate for us to seek to dictate.
These two extreme views being thus disposed of, I pointed out that how Australia at the final stages would regard the terms of the entry, as distinct from the entry itself, was a question which no Australian government could answer in advance. On the contrary, we must completely reserve judgment.
I then went on to explain more closely the nature of what I regarded as the Commonwealth problem. The Commonwealth, of course, has sustained many changes. In the days of the Balfour Declaration and the Statute of Westminster, it was a community of independent and autonomous States, equal in all things but united by a common allegiance to the Throne. The common allegiance has gone, except in the case of the monarchical nations, like our own. The Commonwealth has become a loose association of nations, who value their friendship with each other, who recognize, for the purpose of their association evert though they be republics, that the Queen is head of the Commonwealth, and who, with some notable exceptions, enjoy somewhat similar institutions and traditions of government. But it is still true, however tenuous the nature of the association, that each member is, itself, sovereign and independent.
Now, what effect upon this body of ideas will be made by British accession to the Treaty of Rome? I am going to state the views which I put to the conference. But I want to make it quite clear that whatever my views about the effect of accession upon the structure of the Commonwealth, I was not, and am not, prepared to say that Australia should seek to exercise a veto or use its not inconsiderable influence to persuade Great Britain not to go in on any terms.
The European Economic Community is, of course, at present far from being a federation. It clearly hopes to have closer political union. Indeed, if it did not. it would be self-defeating. One of the great intended virtues of the European Community association is that its very existence and its mutual functioning will tend to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, those old hostilities in Western Europe which have twice in this century brought the world to the brink of disaster. Every European statesman will, therefore, naturally wish to see a closer and closer integration of political policies and a closer and closer economic co-operation. Under the policies now operating, there are large fiscal considerations. A common external tariff needs to be collected and this will mean very great sums of money presumably coming into some central treasury. Variable levies will be imposed on certain imports. These again have to be collected and handled. Inevitably there will be at the centre of the community a large financial and administrative organization exercising functions which, as we see them, are functions of government. They are not likely to be left indefinitely to officials, since the control of such great matters by a central bureaucracy would be inconsistent with British democratic ideas. lt seems to me, therefore, probable that, unless the association disintegrates, there must be, at the centre, more and more a body of elected persons exercising the powers and performing the administration involved in the further working of the Treaty of Rome.
The British Government says, and I have no doubt with the utmost good faith, that it is not contemplating a federation in Europe, that it looks at its political association in ad hoc terms, with periodical discussions between Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and the like, but without the creation of federal institutions. I sincerely hope that it works out this way. But I keep remembering the undoubted truth of the proposition that political associations do not tend to stand still, that they go forward until they assume what we would call a federal structure, or even a complete union in certain cases, or they come apart.
The next point that I made was that, should the day come when the European Community became a federation with Great Britain as a constituent State, then Great Britain would cease to be a sovereign community. It would assume a position quite different from that which it now occupies or from that which is occupied by Canada or Australia or any of the rest of us. My point was that in a federation, no State retains complete sovereignty; the sovereignty is, in a sense divided. Each may exerc>ise sovereign powers within its own field, but some of its sovereignty is shorn off and put into the central federal authority. I took the opportunity of referring to the fact that this great issue of State sovereignty was at the very heart of the American Civil War. There had, in that country, been several schools of thought. One was that when the federation was established, the States preserved their full sovereignty and that that sovereignty was paramount to the rights of the union. Another school of thought was that State sovereignty was suspended by the union, but was capable of revival by secession. And the third school of thought was that State sovereignty as a unitary whole was “finally renounced when the Union was effected. There can be no doubt whatever that the third view was established by the Civil War. If it had not triumphed, then the United States of America would have achieved nothing like the cohesion, and strength, and growth that it has since this disastrous episode.
It seemed to me no more feasible to say that Great Britain’s position in the Commonwealth would be unaffected by participation as a constituent State in a European federation than it would be to say that Australia could join another great federation and still remain an independent sovereign member of the British Commonwealth. Now, of course, one answer to all this - and it has been clearly made in London - is that Great Britain has no intention of going into a federation. I repeat that this must be accepted, and that if she does not, then much of the comment which I have made disappears. I think that twenty years ago I might have become more impassioned about this matter, but the Commonwealth has changed a lot since then. Its association has become much looser. For most of its members, the association is, in a sense, functional and occasional. The old hopes of concerting common policies have gone. Under these circumstances, it may well prove to be the fact that even if federation should be achieved in Western Europe, the anomalous position of Great Britain in the Commonwealth which would then emerge would be regarded as no more anomalous than many other things which have been accepted, and with which we have learned to live. In any event so far as Australia is concerned, nothing can shake us in our allegiance to the Throne, an allegiance which will always give as a very special relationship to many other millions of people in Great Britain and elsewhere.
If I have devoted a great deal of time and thought to these aspects of the matter, it has not been with any desire to be pedantic or obstructive. I have merely felt it my duty not to let a great and crucial Commonwealth event occur without some record of our basic views. For the truth is that any argument of principle, any exposition of the hard practical realities of the federal system, any traditional feelings we have, must yield the ground when it appears, as it does, that with all these considerations before it, the Government of the United Kingdom has decided the political issue in favour of going into Europe. It is an historic decision. It involves great possibilities of advantage and disadvantage. There are material economic risks for us, to which I will return a little later. But, in the eye of the world, the major problem is for Great Britain. Should she find that her voice in Europe is less influential than she hopes, and that alien political and constitutional ideas prevail, her risks are clear. Should the economic balance turn out to be to her disadvantage, her risks are clear. Her government has considered all these matters, and has made a decision, at least in principle.
Under these circumstances, I felt strongly that we should not lodge an objection in principle, saying, “ Whatever the terms, you must not do this thing “. We have no right to say it. We have no desire to say it. On the contrary, when the negotiations have ended, and our consultations are ended, we will be well entitled to assess and state the economic effects for Australia. But on the great issue we will hope and pray that the British judgment proves right, and that a stronger, more concerted Europe will result, with advantages for the peace and prosperity of the world. This has been, of course, a difficult and anxious exercise. The temptation to engage in dogma has had to be resisted. While it has been, and still is, essential for us to battle for the best economic conditions for Australia, we have felt called upon to be careful not to create any impression that ours are the only interests involved, or to seek to force Great Britain into political or economic judgments which, in her considered view, might prove disadvantageous to her. In the end result, therefore, we devoted much time, and will devote much more over the next few months, to the protection and expansion of our own development and trade. We have avoided hard and fast ideas; we have not just sought, vainly, to preserve the status quo. For Great Britain simply cannot secure admission to Europe taking with her the existing structure of Commonwealth preferential trade. But we have sought fair and reason- able opportunities to sell, at remunerative prices, to Britain and Europe the commodities we can produce efficiently. We have, indeed, construed the British undertakings to us as meaning this. We will be bitterly disappointed if events turn out otherwise. In short, we have pursued a pragmatic approach to the economic problem, treating the political problem as one which is now beyond our jurisdiction, and making constructive proposals. As I said to the conference -
If Commonwealth members, as individual nations, can have secured for them terms and conditions of trade which hold out a genuine prospect of increased access to the enlarged European Community at payable prices, and if Great Britain is right in thinking that overall increased trade with Europe will result from the enlargement of Europe, the Commonwealth changes will be accepted by many people, for purely practical reasons “.
I turn, therefore, to those aspects of the economic problem which affect Australia. The facts are that, both before and during the London conference, we pursued a reasoned and reasonable course. It has to be remembered that Australia is not a party to the negotiations. Britain and The Six are the only negotiating parties. We have made clear both to Britain and The Six the nature and extent of our interests and have made constructive proposals towards safeguarding those interests. We have been positive in our approach. As I have said, we did not seek to retain the status quo. But, as so much of our export industry has been developed to satisfy trade outlets in a special Commonwealth structure, we have sought conditions which will preserve our access to Great Britain and the enlarged Common Market, will enable that access to grow as the community grows and prospers, and will secure such access at price-levels which will allow Australia’s export industries to grow and prosper. All this is quite fair. It is not greedy. It is not asking for guaranteed prosperity. It is not dogmatic or unreasonable. It merely says that, as the Treaty of Rome aims at increasing domestic prosperity, and an increase in world trade, Australia is entitled, in exchange for the British preferences she now enjoys, to her fair share in an increasing world trade on terms which will contribute to her own continued development. This is where we make our stand.
I interpolate at this stage that quite a few commentators in London seemed to think that preferences operate only one way. This is, of course, completely wrong. It has been a system of great mutuality. As I pointed out at the conference, Australian trade with Great Britain has for a number of years shown a substantial balance in favour of Britain - a balance to which tariff preferences on British goods passing into Australia have made a substantial contribution.
There is, of course, a view that even if Britain entered the Common Market, on terms which, initially, involved some cost for us, it would be all for our good in the not so very long run because of the great increase in prosperity it would bring to Britain and to the other Common Market countries. This cannot be taken for granted. True enough, if countries abroad, whether they be in Europe or anywhere else, grow in respect of population and industrial output and general demand for goods, there is at least a first expectation that they will need more of the sort of things we producer - foodstuffs and raw materials and the like - and so our exports to them should increase. But it does not necessarily happen that way; not unless one other great condition is fulfilled. Growth and prosperity in industrialized countries may not mean very much to us if, instead of taking more of our commodities, they set out to produce them for themselves behind protective barriers.
Have we reason to fear such a result in the case of the Common Market, enlarged by the accession of Great Britain? At least we have had some rather discouraging experience in recent years. For while growth in the E.E.C. countries during recent times has been very rapid, that unhappily is not true of our exports to them nor indeed of the exports of other primary-producing countries to them.
I may be allowed to quote a few figures to illustrate this. Between 1957 and 1961 industrial production in the E.E.C. countries rose by 30 per cent. - outdistancing the growth of world industrial production through that period by 10 per cent. In the same years, however, exports of sterling area countries, other than Great Britain, to the E.E.C. countries rose by only 4 per cent. To other parts of the world they rose by a good deal more than this.
I have taken first this group of sterling area countries - mainly exporters of primary commodities - because they are a widespread group and therefore diversified.
If we look at our own country alone we find that through these four years when industrial output in the European Economic Community rose by 30 per cent. - a quite remarkable increase - our exports to them actually fell from £236,000,000 in 1957 to £168,000,000, in 1961 - a decrease of 29 per cent.
I know that particular factors contributed to this fall - notably the decline during that period in the price of wool, which we sell in substantial quantities to Europe. But the larger fact remains - while industrial production in that region was growing at a quite remarkable rate, our exports to it did not increase at all - they fell quite heavily as the terms of trade moved against us.
We therefore cannot lightly assume a ready and certain compensation for any loss we might suffer from British accession to the European Economic Community through a lift in the prosperity of Great Britain and Western Europe. Because the hard fact is that, as a first consequence of that act, there would be not a lowering of barriers to our trade but in the case of Great Britain, an extension of them.
We are not alone in our desire for access and a fair price stability. Our discussions with the American Administration, both through Mr. McEwen and myself and the permanent head of our Department of Trade have clearly established two things.
The first is that the United States of America as a non-member of the European Community, like ourselves, shares our lively interest in avoiding a state of affairs in which Europe becomes economically self-sufficient or inward-looking. As exporting countries, we are both profoundly interested in maintaining and expanding our access to an expanded European Market at payable but not extravagant prices.
The second is that, armed with the new powers of negotiation created by the Trade
Expansion Act, the American Administration can contribute powerfully to negotiations with Europe designed to achieve the first objective.
Suggestions of panic, sometimes heard in Australia, are absurd. We are a sturdy and resourceful people. We have fought and will fight our battles in the world markets with vigour and determination. But we will not silently abandon positions which have been hard won and strenuously sustained. There are many communities in Australia largely dependent upon the British market. We cannot regard any of them as expendable. We will await the results of the negotiations, having in mind our own legitimate interests and the adequate safeguards which have been promised to us.
What then, is the position as it stood disclosed at the end of the conference, and stated in the final communique? I will not try to answer this question in detail. But I should say at this stage that while the Minister for Trade and I have been involved in the political and economic aspects of the Common Market, the Treasurer, in London, New York and Washington, was concerned with the special financial aspects of the problem. He was able to encourage and to report a rapidly growing interest in the problems of primary exporting countries, and the need for effective international commodity agreements. I hope that the House will have the opportunity of hearing from him.
On the trade side, my colleague, Mr. McEwen, will fill many of the gaps in my present record. I take this opportunity to say that the Australian public will perhaps never fully know the full measure of the devotion he has shown, with no consideration of health or personal comfort, to the task of forwarding our interests in these great matters.
Broadly, the first thing to record is that, save for “ hard manufactures “ and cereals, with particular reference to wheat, Australia’s exports have so far not been negotiated with The Six, though they have, of course, been extensively discussed between Australia and the United Kingdom. In this category fall substantial items such as beef and veal, mutton and lamb, sugar, butter and cheese, metals, dried and canned fruit, wine and fresh fruits and leather.
We cannot at present prophesy the outcome of the negotiations. Plainly, we cannot comment on unknown results. But we can and do say that anything like a phasing out of our present preferences and agreements by 1970 without some other proper provision for preserving our market opportunities, would be vigorously resisted by us. When these negotiations are nearing conclusion, it is agreed that we can have further conferences on the ministerial level, either by ourselves or in concert with other interested countries.
The second feature concerns the making of international commodity agreements. Australia has, for some years, been perhaps the leading advocate of such agreements, driven on by the steady decline in her terms of trade. It has become, particularly in recent years, a characteristic of world trade that countries exporting primary products have seen a steady decline in the world price of these products, while their imports from the highly industrialized countries of Europe and America have risen in price. I will give one example. In the decade 1951-61, Australia’s export prices fell by 42 per cent., while import prices rose 6 per cent.
Under these circumstances, it has not surprised us in the past to encounter on the part of some overseas countries, including Britain, considerable reluctance to make commodity agreements designed to produce a stable and payable price level for primary exports.
In our London discussions, we asked for a dynamic approach to the negotiation of international commodity agreements. We argued that principles be followed on price, on production, and on trade access, and on a commodity by commodity basis, which would encourage maximum consumption, which would discourage uneconomic production, and which would offer security of access and stability of prices at a level remunerative to efficient producing countries. We argued that the internal price policies of the enlarged community should be such as not to stimulate internal production so as to reduce the access of outside suppliers to their traditional markets or so as to prevent the expansion of commercial imports as consumption levels rose.
We urged that talks between major countries interested in particular commodities should be called at an earlier date and certainly before the United Kingdom made its decision whether or not to enter the European Economic Community. For instance, we said that we thought that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade cereals group might resume its discussion on wheat in the early part of next year. This would enable the possibilities as to the way in which arrangements for individual commodities might work out in detail to be decided in actual negotiations.
We realized that in none of these matters could Britain declare a policy on behalf of the community. What we sought to do was to secure on the part of the British Government a full comprehension of our views and of our trade needs so that they would be reflected and pressed in full degree in the further negotiations. We indicated in a variety of ways that the forum of Gatt should be used wherever practicable - reconvening of its cereals group, the discussion of the community’s price policy, the negotiation, in a manner analogous to tariffs, of levies on agricultural products. We pressed this argument with vigour, especially in relation to the levels of world commodity prices.
In the result, though we did not secure full acceptance of our views, I think it right to say that a material step in the right direction was taken at the conference, with, in clear terms, the full concurrence of Great Britain. Thus, in paragraph 9 of the communique, a paragraph in which the expression “ Commonwealth Governments “ includes the United Kingdom, it is stated -
To meet the needs of the producers of agricultural commodities, Commonwealth Governments will support policies and initiatives designed to maintain and expand world trade in these commodities and to improve the organization of the world market in a manner fair alike to producers and to consumers. They will support a fresh and vigorous approach to the negotiation of international commodity agreements to this end. In any such approach principles of price, production and trade access would need to be applied, on a commodity by commodity basis, so as to encourage maximum consumption without over-stimulating production and to offer to efficient producing countries adequate access and stable prices at a fair and reasonable level.
Later on, in paragraph 12, which was inserted by the request of the British
Government as setting out in summary form its own attitude, it is stated -
Thirdly, as regards temperate products, the enlarged Community would make, at the time of British accession, two important declarations. One would express their intentions to initiate discussions on international commodity agreements for temperate foodstuffs on a world-wide basis. It would recognize the greatly increased responsibilities of the enlarged Community by reason of its predominant position amongst world importers. The second declaration would relate to the price policy of the Community. While taking appropriate measures to raise the individual earnings of those engaged in agriculture in the Community, the Community would do its utmost to contribute to a harmonious development of world trade providing for a satisfactory level of trade between the Community and other countries, including Commonwealth countries. British Ministers considered that the policy which the enlarged Community intended to pursue would offer reasonable opportunities in its markets for exports of temperate agricultural products.
References were quite frequently made to the need for “Trade not Aid”. But this needs to be more than a slogan. The practical problem is well expressed in paragraph 7 of the communique -
They note with concern that trade and industry in the developing countries, as well as in some of the more developed countries which are large producers of primary products for export, have been adversely affected by widely fluctuating commodity prices and a progressive worsening of the terms of trade. They see this as a problem which calls for progressive policies in relation to international trade and finance so that demand for the products of those countries can be sustained and increased, and larger and more dependable trade outlets assured to them.
We have, throughout, emphasized our belief that the expenditure of many millions on aid to developing countries defeats itself if the products of those countries are excluded from the markets of the donor countries. In other words, aid tends to defeat itself unless it increases trade. Commodity trading agreements which raised the price and increased the access of the export commodities of what I will call the new world, by even a small percentage, would be of more value, for development and goodwill, than all the financial grants put together. If the proposed declarations about commodity trading agreements are vigorously followed up, with the prospective co-operation of the United States of America under its new trade expansion law, some of our own problems may be resolved and the world’s trade will be on the way to becoming healthier and better balanced.
Before I conclude, I would like to return to what is, in hard fact, the core of the problem. That problem is access to the enlarged Europe, and fair prices. The community as at present constituted arrives at its own price structure and mechanism. If Great Britain enters, she will be a party to these decisions. Are these to be arrived at without reference to outside suppliers? We believe that there should be, in a periodical way, consultation between the community and exporters like ourselves. We see the established machinery of Gatt as ready-made for this purpose. Failing such consultation, we see, in the European market, a precarious future for our exports. We believe that Great Britain understands this problem and that, in Europe, she will exercise her influence in the direction which we seek. But there is a great responsibility on the present negotiators.
We took the opportunity, in London, of reminding those concerned that The Six had a great responsibility not to insist upon conditions of British entry which would weaken either the growing members of the Commonwealth or the cohesion of the Commonwealth itself. We thought that the present community should be aware that its “ grand design “ of growing economic strength and the furtherance of international trade and prosperity could wholly or partly be defeated if the interests of the Commonwealth, so essential to the grand design, were either set aside or materially prejudiced.
In the result, the communique included the statement -
The representatives of the other Commonwealth countries . . . expressed their hope that the members of the European Economic Community will wish to preserve and encourage a strong and growing Commonwealth, in furtherance of their own ideals of an expanding and peaceful world order.
I add, for Australia, that the next few fateful months will show whether that hope is to be realized.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
The Prime Ministers’ Conference and the Common Market - Statement by the Prime Minister dated 16th October, 1962- and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 855).
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, £4,593,000.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner Senator Brown sought certain information concerning the National Health and Medical Research Council. The burden of his inquiry related in general terms to the council’s charter, and I hasten to advise him that the responsibilities of this body are purely advisory. It was set up to advise the Government and to recommend to the Minister projects which warrant support through medical endowment funds, and to advise the Minister on medical, dental and public health matters. That is a short recital of the main functions of the advisory body.
I know that the honorable senator has a continuing interest in what I might call oldfashioned remedies. He wanted to know what research was taking place along those lines. The charter of the council is so wide that should the honorable senator desire some research to be done into a project that he believes is being neglected, he has my assurance that his submissions will be placed before the council. That is an invitation to him if he desires to bring to the council those old-fashioned remedies of which he is such a great admirer.
Senator O’Byrne sought information concerning an increase of £34,000 in this year’s estimates for quarantine services.
– I sought information about medical benefits and asked why twelve doctors had been reprimanded.
– I am coming to that.
– My other inquiry was about the big buildings being erected with sick people’s funds.
– I have something on that, too. Senator O’Byrne made reference to the Medical Services Committee of Inquiry which is set up in all States to inquire into activities of doctors that are referred to it by the Department of Health. I think it is well to realize, in the first instance, that these committees of inquiry are composed of medical men who have been nominated by branches of the Australian Medical Association. Naturally they are the leaders of their profession in the various States. The committees have referred to them matters which the department thinks might well be an abuse ot administration of national medical services.
The advisory committees analyse the evidence of the doctors on their clinical records, and on that basis alone they make certain recommendations to the Minister. As a result either no action is taken, a reprimand is given or other disciplinary action instituted. I believe that the present system is a good one. The medical profession is very jealous of its good name and its standing in the community. I am sure that the publication of a reprimand indicates to the profession as a whole that one of their number has to some degree fallen by the wayside. 1 believe that tends to quicken the interest of the Australian Medical Association to do what it can to encourage its members to abide by the spirit of the legislation as well as by the agreement itself. The association itself is the best organization to take this type of action on members of the medical profession. As a government we have always refrained from directing medical men what to do, how to do it and when they should do it, and I hope all governments will do the same.
Senator O’Byrne made reference also to the hospital benefits organizations and suggested that with their surpluses they were erecting buildings which indicated they were not spending their revenues in the best interests of the people concerned. The Government demands, by way of legislation, that certain reserves should be held. Who knows when we may be faced with an epidemic that would make great inroads into the reserves of the benefit funds? Therefore the Government demands that the funds must build up and maintain adequate reserves. It is true that some organizations are erecting substantial buildings. I think it could be argued that they are establishing tangible assets of great value so far as their total holdings are concerned. As the organizations have grown from small beginnings their staffs have increased, and I think the honorable senator will support me when I say that any effort that is made, within reason, to house employees in good conditions is something to be desired.
– What do you think their reserve should be?
– Adequate to meet an emergency.
– How much would you suggest?
– In pounds, shillings and pence?
– One would have to examine the balance of every fund before one could give an intelligent answer to that question.
Senator Cavanagh made reference to the Northfield hospital. I do not want to traverse that matter again. Suffice it to say, as I told him in my letter, that the wards under discussion were due for a review by the department some two or three months ago. That review was deferred at the request of the South Australian Government which is contemplating some structural changes in these wards. I take the opportunity to point out to the honorable senator that his interpretation of the act, under which he suggested the Director-General was obliged to state his reasons for non-recognition, is not in line with the act itself. Section 82e (2.) (a) of the National Health Act 1953-1959 provides -
That is a citation from the act itself and it is quite contrary to the point of view that the honorable senator raised when he said that there was an obligation on the Director-General to do certain things under certain conditions. The act is widely drawn when it says -
I do not want the honorable senator to take the quotation of the act as evidence of what may or may not be done regarding these wards. It is a matter for discussion between the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Department of Health of South Australia and until a conclusion has been reached on the matter no useful purpose would be served by discussing it at any length.
asked also for information concerning salaries of officers on attached lists pending suitable vacancies. I am sorry I cannot give an answer in few words, because I do not want to delay the committee. To give a reasonable explanation I would have to set out at some length what the position is. In the preparation of the estimates for salaries of permanent officers, provision is made for filling the positions of the permanent establishment either for the whole or part of the year. In addition to the permanent officers who occupy positions on the permanent establishment, there are usually permanent officers employed in other than permanent positions. The £12,401 referred to includes the salary of one medical officer, one cadet medical officer and four clerks. The medical officer is at present filling the position of Commonwealth Medical Officer, London, which is a three-year appointment. Action has been, or is being, taken to place these permanent officers in permanent positions at the first opportunity.
Senator Cavanagh sought information also concerning the salaries of officers on retirement leave and payments in lieu. This relates solely to those due to retire. Officers quite frequently accept payment of salary in lieu of long service leave on reaching retirement age.
– In connexion with administration of the Department of Health, I want to direct a few remarks to the Minister for Health. First, I should like to comment on the increase in staff. The Minister’s officers are so ready with statistics that probably he can tell me straight away what the increase was in the staff of the Commonwealth Department of Health during the years in respect of which he cited the figures for the State department. Perhaps the Minister could inform me by way of interjection. Obviously, an increase of 215 in the Tasmanian Department of Health over ten years is nothing in comparison with an increase of 250 in one year in the Commonwealth department. Inci dentally, I was not Minister for Health in Tasmania in the past four years, when an increase did take place.
I do not want to get into holts with the Minister all the time. He asked me not to attack his officers. Well, I will not do so. Other Ministers made the same request; but if I am not allowed to attack the officers, I assume that the Ministers will accept full responsibility for actions of their officers. Unfortunately, when I attacked Sir Roland Wilson, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was up in arms, but he has never publicly stated that he would accept responsibility for the disastrous policies of the Government. The Treasurer should have done so if I am not to attack Sir Roland Wilson.
In future, my remarks in relation to health matters will be addressed to the Minister for Health, and I ask him not to be annoyed if I say something out of line. The Minister said that I had made no constructive remarks. It is unfortunate that I must explain to him what are constructive remarks. I suggested postgraduate work for his officers. Is that not a constructive remark? The Minister made no mention of it. I said that we should do something about smoking, but he did not mention that in his reply. I advocated uniform salaries in the Commonwealth and States. That was a constructive suggestion, but I have had no reply. I referred to the fact that, in respect of a certain drug, bureaucracy was rearing its ugly head, to use a cliche, but he made no reference to the drug to which I had referred, Pilocarpine, and to the ludicrous, incomprehensible action that he has taken in regard to it. Can the Minister give me an explanation about Pilocarpine? The Minister mentioned P.B.A., and I agree that the remarks were relevant, but it is quite incomprehensible to every one but the Minister why such a thing as that to which I have referred could happen in the department. Yet the Minister did not say how this mistake had occurred and it goes on and on.
However, I want to refer to some more serious matters. First, I shall reply to Senator Brown by saying that we do nothing about decay in teeth. Here is an avenue for constructive action by the Department of Health, but it does not do anything. It could launch an all-out attack on decay in teeth in Australia. It is no use saying that teeth are bad in Western Australia. Tasmania has the worst dental condition and in Australia generally teeth decay is shocking. There are two reasons for this. First, we do not drink enough milk. The minimum we should have is 5.5 to 6 pints a week per person, which is little enough. But, in some Tasmanian country areas, the people drink only 3.5 pints a week. We could launch a campaign for the drinking of more milk, especially by pregnant women, because the milk drunk by the motherstobe beneficially affects the teeth of their babies. Such a campaign would be a constructive work for the Department of Health and its staff to undertake. Why not have an all-out campaign for fluoridation of water? It is useless for the National Health and Medical Research Council merely to say that it supports fluoridation. Let us have a straight-out campaign to put fluoride into every water supply in Australia, because that is the answer.
– Does this not affect religious susceptibilities?
– I expect it does, but some people object to everything in one form or another. If this is the answer to the problem of dental decay, let us go all out for it. If the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Department of Health favour it, why do we not institute such a campaign instead of merely talking about it?
I was talking about national fitness when my time expired earlier. The Minister said that interest in national fitness has been decreasing. If that is so, why has there been a decrease in interest? The answer is: Because the people have lost hope. There is no hope when the national fitness grant remains at £75,000. I know that the grant to Tasmania is £5,000. The grant has remained unaltered year after year. If this Government believes in help for national fitness and if, years ago, it offered a certain amount for this purpose, certainly with the passage of time there should be an increase in the amount. Like the cost of living, the cost of everything has gone up 133 per cent., yet these grants are on the same basis as they were ten years ago.
Parliamentary salaries did not remain unaltered. That is my biggest annoyance. Honorable senators do not mind putting up their own salaries and accepting the increases, but grants for hospitals and everything else I have mentioned have remained static for ten years. We should tie these grants to parliamentary salaries so that every one will get a fair deal just as we do.
I want to speak now on Division No. 293, sub-division 3, item 06, Poliomyelitis vaccine and quadruple vaccine. An amount of £600,000 is provided for this item. Does that mean that the Government will continue to issue quadruple vaccine? Is the Minister prepared to say by way of interjection whether the Government intends to continue the issue of quadruple vaccine? Will he nod to me or shake his head?
– I will answer you later.
– Then I will have to attack the Minister. I shall have to give him the answer so that he will know what to say. The fact is that quadruple vaccine has been condemned and we no longer believe in its efficacy. If the Minister does not believe me - and he need not - he can refer this matter to the National Health and Medical Research Council and the subcommittee on public health of the Committee for Preventive Medicine in General Practice. We no longer believe in quadruple vaccine, but there is an item on the Estimates in which it is mentioned and the Minister does not know whether the amount provided is for quadruple vaccine or not. If he had interjected in reply to my invitation I would have answered him civilly, but as he will not give me an answer I will go on. We do not believe in quadruple vaccine. When I say “ We “ I am talking about the College of General Practitioners and the Committee for Preventive Medicine in General Practice. Quadruple vaccine has given us more headaches and troubles than anything else because of the inconsistency of supplies. We cannot get it, and there has been a disruption of normal vaccinations with triple antigen. We have given it up and recommended all over Australia that it be no longer used. I hope the Government is not going to spend any more money on a useless item.
I refer now to Division No. 293, subdivision 2, item 08, “ Payments to States for administration of hospital benefits, fi 1,100”. I support what Senator O’Byrne has said regarding the profits made by these organizations. I know that the Minister cannot have these figures at his fingertips. He has said that the hospital and medical benefits associations must have adequate reserves. But that is such a general term. The Minister should be more specific. What is an adequate amount? I ask him to state by interjection what are the reserves of the Blue Cross organization. Obviously the Minister does not know.
– I would not interrupt you for anything. I am spellbound.
– The Minister is so facile in his replies that he frightens me. The organization has £11,000,000 in reserve already. Those reserves are more than adequate. The organization consists of mutual societies and the reserves represent money that we have subscribed to them. They made a profit of £4,000,000 the year before last and just under £5,000,000 in the last financial year. What are we doing about this matter on the Commonwealth level? These societies are like the insurance companies which say that they must keep on building up reserves so that they may help the Government. Then they force the Government to raise the income tax concession on life assurance premiums under the threat that if the Government refuses they will not contribute to government loans. The same thing is going to happen with medical benefits. These are the subscribers’ funds and they should be distributed. Here again, we find that there was a profit of £4,000,000 in the year before last and £4,900,000 in the year just ended. That profit should be going back to the people. Certainly, the answer is that the smaller benefit societies might go to the wall if the bigger ones were to plough the money back. One of the bigger societies pays benefits amounting to two and two-thirds of the government subsidy. Having regard to the amount of profit the societies are making, they could give three and two-thirds or even four times the government subsidy. These are non-profit organizations which are making fortunes. They have £71,000,000 in reserve. They will never need reserves to that extent. Yet we do nothing to insist that they put the money back or increase the amount of the benefits for which we subscribe.
As I have just mentioned, the amount that the Commonwealth subscribes in respect of hospital benefits has remained stationary. It rose from 6s. a day lo 8s. and then stopped. Admittedly, an additional 12s. a day is given if the person concerned is insured, but that is not the hospital grant, which is 8s. Although the salaries of all of us have increased, and costs in every other field have gone up, for the last ten or twelve years the grants to the hospitals have remained stationary. This is another example of the Government starting a scheme and then leaving the public to carry the baby. The Government will not increase the basic grant, although the cost of living has risen.
I should like to have time to mention the position in regard to the special account. This is an account for people suffering from chronic illnesses who are not acceptable to benefit funds. The Commonwealth Government underwrites the medical benefit societies which provide benefits for them. I do not mind that. It is a very good plan and a good idea, but let us consider the case of people who have been subscribing for years to one, two or three societies. Quite rightly, the Commonwealth pays in respect of only one subscription. However, the Commonwealth has enacted a law which provides that when such a person reaches the age of 65 years he must cease to be a member of more than one society at a time, although at that time of his life, when his income-earning capacity is at its lowest because he has been put off his work or has retired, he is most in need of hospital benefits. The Government says to him, through the act, “ You cannot be a member of two societies “. It does not hurt the Government. It will make only one payment, whether he is aged 40, 60 or 70 years.
I understand that the medical benefit societies of Australia asked the Government to repeal this provision of the act and that the Government refused to do so. That seems to me to be a stupid ruling. We are here to change the law if it is wrong. I am speaking of people in the middle-income group and of the wealthier classes who have to pay £45 a week or more for a hospital bed. They subscribe to two or three societies in order to cover the cost of hospital treatment, but when they reach the age of 65 years and their incomeearning capacity declines, they are no longer entitled to subscribe to more than one society. That is both ludicrous and stupid. I know that that is in accordance with the act, but let us change the act. I suggest that none of us would like it to happen to us. If the Minister himself had been contributing to two societies, he would not like to find that when he reached the age of 65 years - with no superannuation from the Commonwealth of Australia - he had suddenly to give up subscribing to one society.
I do not intend my remarks to apply to people who, at the age of 63 years, jump in and join three or four societies. But if a person has been contributing for years to a society, why should he have to terminate his subscriptions? I hope that I shall not be given a facile answer. This seems to me to be a reasonable complaint and I hope that the Minister will do something about it. I also wish he would lay down the law to the Blue Cross associations.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have already referred to the position regarding patients in the Northfield ward of the Royal Adelaide Hospital because I am of the opinion that the provisions of the act are not being applied as they should be. The Minister has stated, in reply, that my conclusions are not correct, and he has referred to a section of the act. I take it that he was advised by officers of his department who, I should think, are noted more for their administrative or medical knowledge than for their legal knowledge of the subject. I do not think there is any difference of opinion between the Minister and myself on the meaning of the act, but I contend that the provisions of the act are not being applied in the circumstances I have mentioned.
The important point is that benefits under the act shall not be paid unless the Director-General of Health recognizes the institution concerned for special account purposes. That is an essential ingredient. However, the Director-General has no option but to recognize the institution if it comes within the relevant section of the act. That section provides that he shall recognize, for special account purposes, an institution that is a public hospital or an approved private hospital unless it is, in his opinion, in the nature of a benevolent home, convalescent home, home for aged persons or rest home. As my legal friends would say, that is a sine qua non of the application of the relevant section.
The Minister said, in effect, “ We were going to review this matter two months ago, but we were requested to delay doing so by the South Australian Government “. What has the Liberal Government of South Australia to do with the National Health Act? It seems that because Sir Thomas Playford has said, “ Hold off for the time being “, those who have a legal entitlement to benefit under this section are being deprived of their rights. The Director-General should have found, two months ago, that patients in the ward were entitled to benefit because their circumstances complied with every essential ingredient of the act. It seems that the government which has no authority at all in the matter is able to deprive people of benefits to which they are entitled. Surely, the statute does not allow of outside interference.
I have referred to the opinions of Mr. Rollason and the secretary of the South Australian Hospitals Association to the effect that the people concerned are entitled to these benefits. The Minister does not deny that. In effect, he says, “ If we had looked into it two months ago, we might have found that these people had some statutory entitlement to payment, but somebody asked us not to do it “. Because somebody else asked the Government not to look into the matter, these people have been deprived of a benefit for which they have been contributing for many years. Surely, to use the vernacular, that is wielding the big stick. I suggest this matter should have been looked into.
I do not want to be hard about this question, but it must be perfectly clear to any one who examines lt thoroughly that people with chronic illnesses, or people who have been suffering for a long time, are being deprived of benefits to which they are entitled and for which they have been contributing. Surely, if a sympathetic Liberal government erred at all, it should err on the side of that section of the community which is suffering. I say that the Minister has no right to delay for two months action with respect to the provision simply because some one else wanted that delay in order to avoid possible liability for payment of benefits to these people.
As a result of the correspondence I have received following publicity with relation to the Northfield ward of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, and as a result of information given to me by Mr. Merry, I am firmly convinced that there is power under the act to recognize the entitlement of an individual patient despite the fact that the patient is in a hospital that is not recognized by the Government. Because of the special treatment they are receiving, such people are entitled to recognition, but it is clear on the information available to me that numerous applications by such patients for individual consideration under the act have been rejected by the Director-General. This has led to the following statement by Mr. Merry: - “ We will make the application but it seems a foregone conclusion “. If there is any act that requires review in order to meet the needs of those who are sick, it is the National Health Act. Although we are not discussing the act at the moment, I do point out that it limits the Government’s liability to about £22 10s. in the case of a serious operation. The act has inflated hospital and medical fees, and some patients are not in a position to pay them. There is great need for completely redrafting the act in order to cover those people who are invalided or sick and in need of assistance.
I repeat that I realize that we are not in order now in criticizing the act itself, but I do emphasize that everything the Minister has said in reply to my comment has confirmed my belief that some people are being deprived of their legal entitlements under the act as it stands. I hope that, instead of bowing to the wishes of confederates in South Australia, the Minister will insist that those people who are entitled to benefit receive that benefit.
Senator BISHOP (South Australia) ments to what seems to me to be an important question - that of publicity in connexion with advertising. I refer generally to Division No. 291 - Administrative, and in particular to Division No. 293, sub-division 2, item 07. I might make some reference to item 06. My proposition is that the Government ought to consider a planned form of publicity in connexion with advertising of proprietary medicines, vitamins and drugs. I have this conviction because of the rather belated press releases that always seem to appear when it is discovered that some important drug, or the like, is injurious to the community. It seems to me that this is not a very satisfactory way of advising the people of Australia of the dangers of particular drugs and some medicines. I hope that some consideration will be given to this matter.
I illustrate my point by quoting from the interim report of the Director-General of Health in which reference is made at page 4 to advertising of proprietary medicines by radio or television. In the first paragraph, the Director-General refers to the censorship of radio and television commercials for proprietary medicines and says that this is carried out within the terms of the Broadcasting and Television Act. Dealing with the advertising of vitamins, the Director-General says -
Advertising of vitamins and claims made for them are being studied, and, in the near future, a conference will be held with the manufacturers of these products to discuss the application by industry of voluntary controls.
I suggest that something more than that is needed. On page 18 of the report, some very important principles are emphasized under the heading, “ Guide for manufacturers and advertisers “. They refer to principles which I do not think are as well known in Australia as they should be. The report states -
The following principles have been emphasized: -
Tell the truth about what is offered in such a manner that its significance will be understood by the trusting as well as by the analytical consumer.
Be sure that the normal usage of merchandise or services offered will not be hazardous to public health or life,
The Director-General then points out that the industry has set up a liaison committee which will be responsible for future amendments or revision of the code as and when necessary. The best information I can get about what happens in connexion with this question of publicity is that contained in the fifth-sixth report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. When a witness, Mr. Dunlop, was invited to give his opinion concerning the appointment of a publicity officer he stated -
Pie started with us on 18th January, 1960. Instead of going in for a lot of press advertisements and press publicity in the ordinary way, we worked on a different basis. We have encouraged the registered organizations to advertise. The other method adopted is by press releases from the Minister drawing attention to various matters. Therefore, we have not spent the money in the way we originally intended.
The witness referred to the fact that not £8,000 but only £6,500 was spent. I should say that £8,000 is not a great deal to spend. 1 suggest that the Minister and the Government should give serious consideration to following a comprehensive form of planning for press releases, particularly with respect to those two items. In view of the lateness of the hour, I shall not proceed with other comments which I proposed to make, but shall content myself with mentioning the two important matters to which I have referred.
– I should like to direct attention to the section of these estimates dealing with quarantine. I do so because I should like the Minister to tell me how many medical officers in his department are directly concerned with the policing of the quarantine regulations. I should like to ask the Minister, also, whether he heard the news broadcast this evening in which it was stated that there was an outbreak of cholera in Hollandia, and, if this should unfortunately be true, whether our quarantine regulations are sufficient, at all points of entry, particularly of air travellers, to provide adequate protection against the introduction to Australia of this disease.
I should like, also, to ask the Minister a question with relation to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission. In his report for the year ended 30th June, 1962, the Auditor-General has this to say, at page 47 -
If available the financial statements in respect of operations to 30th June, 1962 will be included in the Supplementary Report.
That is for the activities of the commission from last November to June. As we all know, administration of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories passed from the Department of Health to a commission at that time. It would be of great interest to honorable senators, in these discussions on health and various products, to know the actual position of the laboratories at present under the new set-up.
I, too, am rather concerned at the amount of false advertising, and at the amount of money that is spent in advertising on radio and television, and in the press and trade journals, of various patent medicines and medical supplies. There should be a tightening up in this regard. Most extravagant claims are made for all kinds of medicines. Some people clutch at any straw, and there must be terrific spending by consumers in this field for the expenditure on advertising to be justified. I cannot imagine such vast advertising campaigns being undertaken as commercial propositions if there were no possibility of very big returns from them. Therefore, the prices of many of these so-called remedies would tend to be much higher than they should be, even if they are efficacious, which in many cases is open to doubt.
In the interim report issued by the Director-General of Health, on page 13, is a statement with regard to the National Biological Standards Laboratory, which should give us some cause for thought.
With which item in the Estimates is this concerned?
– It is covered by “ Other Services “ under Division No. 293. The report states -
Continued inability to obtain an Officerincharge for the Bacterial Products Laboratory has necessitated diversion of Antibiotics Laboratory resources to sterility testing.
Can the Minister inform the committee why there is inability to obtain an officerincharge for such an important section of the public health services? Is it because the salary is not sufficiently high, or is there not satisfactory tenure of employment?
I desire to refer also to child health centres, which are also covered by Division No. 293. Exactly the same appropriation, £50,000, is proposed for this year as was made last year. The amount has remained the same over the years. I should like to congratulate the Minister upon the work that is done, on a very limited budget, by these centres. An extension of their work, by the provision of a larger amount of money, would be well worth while.
I note, with great pleasure, the proposal to increase the subsidy for aerial medical services by about 40 per cent. Coming, as I do, from a State wherein aerial medical services are of such terrific importance to the people of the outback, with about twothirds of the State being dependent upon these services, I am grateful for this increase in subsidy. I should like to pay tribute to all of those who are associated with these services for the great confidence that they give to the people who go to the outback. They remove a fear that has held many people back from going to these outlying districts.
However, 1 am a bit doubtful about the administrative section of the Department of Health. I refer now to Division No. 291. I presume the fact that no provision is made for an appropriation on account of research by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories sterns from the transfer of control of the laboratories to a separate commission.
– That is right.
– I should like to know whether the Parliament will be furnished by the commission with a report on the whole of its working. Is there to be any difference in the research work conducted under the new set-up? Will it still come within the ambit of the department?
I should like to refer also to home nursing, for which greater provision should be made. By subsidizing home nursing we are assisting to reduce the demand on our hospitals, particularly by the chronically ill. This is a very important service. Any money that the Government can spare to devote to it will be very well spent. I have seen many of those who do this work in the homes of the sick and the aged. None of the money devoted to the service is wasted and more could be done in this regard.
Division No. 293 also covers the provision of hearing aids for children. I realize that this is only a beginning. Work in this field is being done by the Commonwealth
Acoustic Laboratories. I should like to see the provision extended. The provision of aids for school children is a very good beginning. I should like to see the provision extended to pensioners. Something more ought to be done for the deaf. When I raised this matter some years ago, I was taken to task by some organizations which - at a price, of course - supply hearing aids to the deaf. I said then, and I say again, that many persons are exploited by high charges for hearing aids. The Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories could make a big contribution by supplying hearing aids, not necessarily free of charge - although that should be the case with pensioners - but at a reasonable charge to other persons who are afflicted. Quite a number of people, I know from experience, have been charged very heavily for hearing aids, many of which do not measure up to the standard required by the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories in the provision of hearing aids for children.
Because of the lateness of the hour, I do not intend to touch upon other points that have been raised by honorable senators. We owe a debt to the Department of Health for the work it performs, almost at bargain rates. When we deduct payments to hospital benefit societies and payments in salaries, not a great deal is left to cover the extensive work that is done by this department. I should like to see more publicity given, not only to its work but also to the facilities that are available through it. I should not complain if the money made available for research and for other essential work of the department were trebled instead of standing at the figure that appears in the Estimates.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I will start from the bottom of my list of matters and work up so that the questions will be fresh in my memory. The remarks of Senator Tangney cheered me considerably. I refer particularly to her reference to the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories. I know that she has a lively interest in their work. She may be interested to know that up to the present 9,000 repatriation patients have been supplied with hearing aids and that the number of school children who have been supplied with them is 5,600.
Perhaps I could take the time of the committee for just a moment because that is not the full story. When in Perth recently I was informed that a nine-months-old baby was brought into the laboratory. Its parents did not know whether or not it was deaf. So effective and so efficient were the staff and their equipment that they proved conclusively that that nine-months-old child was deaf. That is a service that cannot be measured in pounds, shillings and pence. That little mite went out of the laboratory with a hearing aid, and as time goes on that hearing aid will mean a new life for that child.
asked about the report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. That will be tabled. She also commented on the increased grant for aerial medical services. This is one of the finest services to the outback. The grant has been increased to provide assistance in the transfer of the Cloncurry base. Trans-Australia Airlines has moved from Cloncurry to Mount Isa. That airline services the aircraft of the aerial medical service. That move by T.A.A. requires the transfer of the facilities of the service to Mount Isa, too.
Senator Tangney also asked about a reported outbreak of cholera in Hollandia. 1 understand that such an outbreak has occurred. In the next day or so we will announce the action that we are taking to prevent the disease spreading into our areas. We have taken urgent action in that matter. Senator Tangney asked for information about the number of medical officers working in the quarantine service. We have eight permanent medical officers, but we have many more doctors working part-time. We call upon their services when aircraft or ships arrive in the various ports of the Commonwealth. It is difficult for me to give, offhand, any idea of the number of medical men working in that field. The number is adequate and they are on call all the time. Actually, they provide for the Commonwealth a very cheap, comparatively speaking, and effective quarantine service.
Senator Bishop made a thoughtful contribution about the advertising of drugs and medicines. This matter has been concerning the Department of Health for a considerable time. The Commonwealth is subject to certain limitations in this matter because the States have the sole right to determine what shall or shall not be publicized about drugs and medicines in the various States. I concede that there are ways and means of getting a uniform approach to this problem. The State Health Ministers have always been prepared to cooperate in these matters. The points raised by the honorable senator are and have been under active consideration for some time. I hope that that consideration will prove of benefit to the people.
Senator Cavanagh referred again to two hospital wards at North Adelaide. I have nothing to add to what I said previously. I suggested to him that debating the merits of the legislation would not solve the problem about which he has been talking. There are other ways of solving it. I suggest to him that action for the recognition of the hospital was deferred because of a request from the South Australian Government. I understand that that Government is the proprietor of the hospital. The State Government, in its wisdom, must concede that the facilities offered, in the main, do not come up to the standards required by the Commonwealth. For that reason it has asked that the matter be deferred, I presume, until it has made the alterations that it has in mind.
asked himself many questions and, of course, again he supplied the answers himself. However, he made some inquiries that 1 certainly concede are worthy of answers. The first question he asked was: What has been the increase in the staff of the Department of Health over the last ten years? Contrary to his expectation, I cannot give him that figure at this point of time. I will be very happy to find out the figure for him and let him have it. He expounded at great length on hospital benefits and the special accounts fund. All I say on that matter is that if he does not know he should know that a conference between the Commonwealth and State Health Ministers on this very subject has been called for 22nd October. If he suggests that I should divulge to him before the conference what the Government has in mind and what the State Health Ministers have in mind on this subject, then I am awfully sorry to disappoint him.
– You mean that you do not know yourself. Is that it?
– That is the last question asked by Senator Turnbull that I intend to answer now. Let me make myself quite clear on this matter. I take no offence whatsoever at the terms in which he addressed himself to these matters. His sneers and his jeers leave me unperturbed and unimpressed. I have no quarrel at all with his penchant for wild, extravagant statements full of accusation and full of innuendo. This is a Parliament of free speech, and I will support free speech as long as I am a member of it. But I reserve the right to treat those sorts of allegations and accusations with the contempt that they deserve. I will give the committee just one example.
Some little while ago a cry from the honorable senator appeared in the Tasmanian press. He was so concerned about this matter that he rushed straight to the press. He was so anxious to get this information that he did not come to me - no, he went to the press. This is what he said: “Will the Minister for Health tell the people of Tasmania why he is closing the health laboratory in Tasmania?” That health laboratory is providing a magnificent service for the medical profession and the hospitals. Of course, the theme of the question was: Why is the Minister for Health closing this health laboratory?
– I did not say that. I asked why you were taking the pathologist away. You do not even read the newspapers.
– I suggest that the honorable senator was reported as saying: “Why is the Minister for Health closing this health laboratory? “ He must have known full well that instead of closing the laboratory we are increasing its staff to cope with increased demands on it.
I have given the committee one example of the wild, irresponsible accusations that the honorable senator makes. I say to him quite bluntly that I do not intend to chase those sorts of hares all round the countryside. If and when he is prepared to make constructive criticisms - I do not care how scathingly they may be expressed - I will be very happy to try to answer them. I do not expect that the honorable senator will refrain from the attack. Of course he will not. The leopard never changes his spots.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Health, Capital Works and Services, £817,000; Payments to or for the States, Department of Health, £400,000- noted.
Proposed expenditure, £1,352,000.
– In speaking to this portion of the Estimates, I desire to refer to Division No. 103 - Parliamentary Reporting Staff. There is no doubt in my mind - I submit there can be no doubt in the minds of honorable senators - that the work performed by the Commonwealth Parliament is more important than is the work performed by the Parliaments of the
States. In saying that, I do not seek to take from the State parliaments the importance of their responsibilities, but, by and large, the State parliaments are concerned with what one might term parochial matters compared with the responsibilities to Australia of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. In this regard I feel I should refer to the important responsibilities which are borne by the officers of this Parliament. In referring to the Parliamentary Reporting Staff let me say that- 1 have the honour to be associated with members of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff as a member of the Australian Journalists Association. The staff to which I have referred prepares what is commonly referred to as the “ Hansard “ report. The members of that Staff provide an invaluable service, not only to the Parliament but also to the people of Australia and, indeed, to other countries of the world because records of the debates and proceedings in this Parliament have a world-wide distribution.
The rate of remuneration received by the members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Reporting Staff is lower than that received by their counterparts in some State Parliaments. In the Victorian Parliament the “ Hansard “ reporter receives £2,998 a year, whereas the reporter in the Commonwealth Parliament receives £2,751 a year. In other words, compared with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Reporting Staff, the Victorian Parliamentary Reporting Staff has a salary advantage of £247 a year. Similarly, in Queensland, the salary of the reporters in the State Parliament is higher than that received by the reporters in this Commonwealth Parliament. Having regard to the work performed by the officers of this Parliament, I believe that they should enjoy rates of pay at least as high as, if not higher than, those enjoyed by reporters in State parliaments.
Let us take the situation further and compare the sizes of the parliaments. There are 122 members in the House of Representatives and 60 in this chamber. In the Victorian Parliament, there are 66 members in the Legislative Assembly and 34 in the Legislative Council. In Queensland, where the parliamentary reporters receive a higher remuneration than do the Commonwealth parliamentary reporters, there is a unicameral system of government. The Par liament consists of only 78 members. The Commonwealth Parliament should take cognizance of the rates of remuneration and working conditions of parliamentary staffs elsewhere and ensure that the officers of this Parliament enjoy at least equal conditions.
I refer not only to members of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff. I have in mind also all other officers who might find themselves in a similar position. I believe that this Parliament should be responsible for the fixation of the remuneration of the officers of the Parliament. The Parliament of the Commonwealth cannot afford to subjugate its authority to any wagefixing tribunal or to any Public Service authority.
I believe that the rates I have mentioned are inequitable having regard to the industrial comparison of like with like. The President of the chamber and the Speaker of another place should seriously consider upgrading the rates of remuneration of those people so that there will be attracted to the Commonwealth Parliament the most competent of men engaged in the very important professions that make up a parliamentary staff. The members of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff to whom I have referred are skilled in the art of phonography, they are skilled in journalism and they are skilled certainly in diplomacy, having regard to the way they undertake their work. They are conscientious and valuable adjuncts to the working of any parliament. I submit that this is a very important matter and one which the Government should heed in considering this proposed vote.
.- I wish to refer to Administrative Expenses in the estimates for the Senate. Last year the appropriation for standing and select committees’ expenses was £9,000. The actual expenditure was £2,741. This year the proposed vote is £5,000. In the estimates for the House of Representatives the appropriation last year for standing and select committees’ expenses was £7,000 of which £6,539 was spent. This year only £500 is set aside for this purpose. That is rather a small amount in view of the previous appropriation and expenditure. Can the Minister tell me the items to which these expenses refer? Are they for travelling expenses of the committees or for fees paid to members of the committees? If they are travelling expenses can the Minister give me some details? If they are for fees I ask which members of committees are paid fees and what rates per day they receive.
– I wish to make a brief reference to Division No. 105, Joint House Department. The first item shows “ Salaries and Allowances as per Schedule, page 157, £35,600”. The next item is “Temporary and casual employees, £85,800 “. When we turn to page 157 we find that in the first analysis the salaries total £63,952. Then we find three items which read -
Amount to be recovered from the Refreshment
Rooms Account, £2,065.
Amount to be withheld from Housekeeper on account of rent, £144.
Amount estimated to remain unexpended,
Surely we can get some better system of estimating the salaries than to have a total of £63,000 supplied and then be told that that amount is to be reduced by sums that we do not expect to expend. I am quite satisfied about the first two items to be deducted, but the third item of £26,000 is about two-thirds of the amount that it is expected will be expended. I should like the Minister to give me some explanation.
– 1 direct attention to Division No. 101 and refer to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conferences - Representation. I notice that last year the appropriation was £1,640. The expenditure amounted to £2,673. This year no provision is made for this item at all, and no indication is given that it is bracketed under any other heading. As there is an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference held every year, I am wondering whether the Minister can explain why there is no proposed vote this year for representation at such a conference.
– In reply to Senator McClelland I understand that the rates of pay for “ Hansard “ reporters are fixed by the Presiding Officers after taking into account the comparative rates in other spheres of activity. Senator
Wood’s question related to the provision for standing committees.
– And select committees.
– Yes. The estimates were the best that could be made at the time the accounts were prepared. The proposed vote for the expenses of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Regulations and Ordinances Committee shows an increase of £2,259 over the expenditure for 1961-62. The expenditure was very small during 1961- 62 as the Foreign Affairs Committee sat, in the main, in Canberra during weeks when the Parliament was sitting, thus incurring negligible costs in air fares and travelling allowances.
Senator Sandford inquired about InterParliamentary Union conferences. No estimate of expenses this year could be made at the time the Estimates were prepared because no decision had been made at the time whether we would be represented at the conference in Brasilia. That decision was made subsequently. Provision will need to be made in subsequent Estimates. Reference was made to an amount expected to be unexpended. There is an unusually large number of permanent positions which are not filled by permanent officers. The positions are filled by temporary employees.
Senator WOOD (Queensland) r 10.20].- I do not think the Leader of the Government understood the context of my questions. I was seeking information on ho v this money was expended. The’e are select committees and standing committee,. I should like to know what the members of those committees receive and what is the basis of the expenses under Division 102, sub-division 2. item 03 Do ‘he members of those committees receive fees on the dai./ that Parliament is sitting if they attend committee meetings on those days, o- ‘Jo they not receive fees when the Parliament is sitting? Are fees paid only on days when the Parliament 19 not siring?
– It is not good enough for the Leader of the Government in the Senat to say that the amount estimated to re” ain unexpended for salaries and payments in the nature of salaries is the result of perman nt positions not being filled. The figure.’- presented to us show that the number of officers in each category remains the same. We also find that the amount of £85,800 for temporary and casual employees is not listed in the list of salaries and payments at page 157 of the Estimates. If the amount to be spent is being expended in respect of temporary officers, it should be included in the £85,800 and should not be a deduction from the amount of £63,952 shown at page 57. It is not fair to the Parliament to say that this result is brought about bv money not being expended because some of the officers are temporary and not permanent. When the estimate is shown as £63,952 and then it is reduced by £26,143. there is need for an explanation.
– I thought I had made it clear that the schedule of salaries and allowances which appears in the second part of the Estimates relates only to permanent employees.
– It was the same last year.
– That schedule relates only to permanent employees. If a position is not filled permanently, a deduction is made of the amount involved and it is shown as the amount unexpended on permanent officers because positions had been established but had not been filled permanently. Temporary and casual employees are specifically provided for in the figures shown in the first part of the Estimates. If permanent positions are not filled and it is expected that there will be difficulty in getting permanent employees to fill them, and they are filled by temporary staff an appropriate deduction is made in the appropriation and the officers concerned are shown in the classification “Temporary and casual employees”.
.- I take it that the £26,143 estimated to remain unexpended relates to permanent positions which are filled by temporary or casual employees, and that provision for those temporary and casual employees is included in the amount of £85,800 shown in Division No. 105, subdivision 1, item 02.
– Senator Cant has correctly stated the position. I have some information in reply to Senator Wood. The expenditure shown under Division No. 102 - House of Representatives, item 03, Standing and Select Committees, relates to the Select Committee on Voting Rights for Aborigines. We do not expect to have a select committee in this financial year.
– What were the fees that were paid to members of that committee?
– The sitting fee for members was £2 10s. and the travelling allowance was £4 a day. Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee receive a sitting fee of £2 10s. a day. Their travelling allowance in Canberra is £4 a day out of session and £4 4s. a day when away from Canberra.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 114 - Parliamentary printing, and the provision for the printing of parliamentary papers. The appropriation last year was £44,000 and expenditure was £58,857. This year the amounts are shown separately and not under that division. A footnote at page 9 states that these items are provided under Division No. 101/2/02, Division No. 102/2/02 and other relevant items. The appropriation for the Senate under Division No. 101 for printing, binding and distribution of papers is £13,700 and the appropriation under Division No. 102 for a similar purpose for the House of Representatives is £26,750. The total of these amounts is £40,450. Last year, the estimate was £44,000 and the expenditure was £58,057. It seems that the total of £40,450 for this year is low. It may be that there is provision under another item. I have referred to the provision under two divisions and also to the footnote relating to “ Other relevant items “, but it escapes me where those other items are. Perhaps the Leader of the Government would inform me on that point.
Referring further to parliamentary papers, it seems that there is a shortage of the copies of the large book into which the papers are bound annually as a permanent record. I made some inquiries and I found that it is almost impossible to get a set of these papers even for last year or the year before. Also, there has developed a shortage in connexion with their use by other institutions. Apparently, these documents can be used by the Library for exchange with other institutions, perhaps overseas. I am informed that only a small number of the papers is printed. It seems that if a run of the papers is being made, it would not be very expensive to print more of them.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– The reply to Senator Murphy’s question about parliamentary papers and the variation in the cost is quite a lengthy one. Briefly, it refers to the adoption of a new procedure in this year’s Estimates, following an examination by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts a few years ago, which in turn was followed by consideration of the situation by the Presiding Officers and the Treasury. I have a long paper setting out the details which I hardly think it worth while to read. It is a case of something being in one place last year and of its being put in a different place this year. On the question of shortage of papers, I can only say that I shall take note of Senator Murphy’s comments and ask that some inquiries be made.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. President,I wish to say a few words about the attitude of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator
Spooner) to questions thatI have asked on subjects which, in my opinion, are of great importance to Australia. As far as possible, I have tried to couch my questions in polite language, but Senator Spooner always seems to take umbrage. I say to you, Sir, that I shall persist in asking such questions if I think I am right in doing so, regardless of the way in which Senator Spooner deals with them and of the way he is supported by those who sit behind him.
Questions thatI have asked recently have been concerned with the trade and tariff policy of the United States of America. I wanted to know how United States legislation would affect Australia. In fact, the legislation is not new, as I shall point out later. Senator Spooner said that I was not conversant with the subjects of the questions I asked. I have in my possession a copy of a statement made by President Kennedy as far back as December of last year. It was courteously supplied to me by the American Embassy. If Senator Spooner has not read it, I do not mind lending it to him. It may add to his knowledge. This matter has been mentioned many times in the United States during the last year. The President foreshadowed the legislation on several occasions. For instance, on 6th December, as I have mentioned previously, he made a statement to Congress. Again, I think on 25th January last, the President made another lengthy statement to Congress, covering ten or eleven foolscap pages, regarding new trade agreements. I do not know whether Senator Spooner has read that statement or whether the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), who interjected when I was asking a question recently, has read it. If they have not done so. they may care to read it, and I am prepared to allow them to do so.
– Are you referring to the trade expansion law?
– Exactly. My questions were directed to finding out the effect that that law would have on Australia. It is important to remember that when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) returned to Australia in June of this year he made no mention at all of the United States proposal, which may mean a great deal of additional prosperity for the United States. More importantly, it could affect
Australia’s trade. I do not know whether it will affect our trade for better or for worse, and that is why I have asked questions on the matter.
On 4th July last, the President of the United States made a statement regarding this new marketing scheme. On 8th August, I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate a lengthy question in relation to the formation of a concrete Atlantic partnership and other matters. I shall not read all of the question, but in the course of it I asked -
If the Minister is aware that such a statement was made, can he say whether it has been studied by the Prime Minister and his advisers? If so, will the Minister make a considered statement to the Senate setting out how Australia would be affected if the President’s suggestion were acted upon? The matter is particularly important because of the many obstacles confronting Australia in relation to trade with Europe and the United States during the coming decade.
In reply, the Minister stated that the Prime Minister was to make a speech on the following night and the Minister thought that if I were to listen to him the matter I had raised would be dealt with, even though not directly mentioned. I read the statement made by the Prime Minister on 9th August, but it contained only a casual reference to the new bill.
On Thursday last I asked the Minister whether he had read the alarming statements made by the United States UnderSecretary of State, Mr. George Ball, in which he made a forecast that Europe would produce more grains and other temperatezone products with fewer farmers, and that the United States would make a titanic drive to maintain its position as the principal supplier of agricultural products to the crucial markets of Western Europe. My question continued -
As the Americans have acted consistently against Australian interests since the issue of British to the Common Market was raised-
At this point, Senator Henty interjected, “ Have they? “ What he meant, I do not know. Perhaps he did not know, either. I continued -
As the Americans have acted consistently against Australian interests since the issue of British entry to the Common Market was raised, would it be possible for a statement to be issued to the Senate and the nation showing clearly the problems that will confront Australia in the light of the remarkable statements which have emanated from the United States of America and which I have mentioned in this question?
The Minister saw fit to answer in the following terms: -
I must start my reply by suggesting to Senator Hendrickson that instead of reading questions in the Senate he would be better advised to read the Prime Minister’s statement on this issue.
That is the point at which I come to grips with the Minister to-night. I have read the Prime Minister’s statement. In fact, I have read three of the Prime Minister’s statements, and I have listened to another statement by him to-night. But he refers only casually to the new bill that has just been brought down in the American Congress. This proves to me that instead of my not being conversant with the problem about which I was asking, Senator Spooner was not conversant with it. The point is that even though I might not have been conversant with the subject, I was seeking information. If a Minister is not conversant with the matter about which I am asking, then all he needs to say is - “ Put the question on the noticepaper and I shall have an investigation made and a reply furnished to the honorable senator”. That would be only reasonable. I interjected while Senator Spooner was answering, and he said -
The Prime Minister’s statement on this issue refers, in explicit terms, to his discussions with President Kennedy on this matter.
I have the Prime Minister’s statement before me, and I would like the Leader of the Government to point out to me where it refers in explicit terms to President Kennedy’s statement or to the new bill before Congress. I am referring now to a previous statement by the Prime Minister, not the one read by Senator Spooner to-night. I am referring to what Senator Spooner said last Thursday, not to-night. When he was answering my question last Thursday, I interjected -
What can you read into it?
That was all I meant. I did not mean to be rude. Senator Spooner replied -
I suggest that it would be much better for you to read it.
I interjected -
I have read it.
In fact, I have read it three times. Senator Spooner then said -
If you cannot understand it, you should get some assistance; you should get some one to help you to understand it.
I only wanted information. I know that Senator Spooner is no Argus the Boy
Wonder. I know he does not know everything. In fact, 1 know that he knows very little about anything, and I do hope and trust that in future he will say, “ I cannot answer your question as I have not the information; but I will send the question to the responsible Minister and obtain a reply for you “. In that way, it is possible that I will get a reasonable answer from the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). Last Thursday, I said to Senator Spooner -
I am asking for your assistance, but you cannot give any.
Senator Spooner replied ;
I am always willing to try to assist, but it is always a bil of a disappointment when one feels that it is love’s labour lost and that there is no possibility of explaining a difficult matter to a questioner.
I interjected -
That is not very statesmanlike - and Senator Spooner replied ; 1 will give you an answer to the question prefaced by the suggestion that you should get some one to explain these questions to you before you ask them. That would be a help to us all.
Senator Spooner then made a statement in this chamber which is not recorded in “ Hansard “. He said that if the Deputy Leader of this party would get some one to ask him a Dorothy Dix question he would not mind answering it. I do not believe in putting up Dorothy Dix questions; I believe in seeking information.
– Whom do you put them up for?
– Let me say for Senator Henty’s information that we represent half the people of Australia and that if it had not been for a few Communist votes Senator McKenna would be sitting where Senator Spooner is to-night, and I venture to say that Senator McKenna would extend to the Opposition, which would consist of the present Government members, that courtesy which he has always extended to them over past years as Leader of the Opposition. I believe, too, that Senator McKenna would endeavour at all times to give reasonable answers to any questions that were asked of him. If he did not have the information, he would obtain it for the questioner.
Senator Henty has always interjected when I have been asking questions. I remember vividly that when I asked ques tions about the European Common Market five years ago Senator Henty laughed, as did many other honorable senators on the Government side. They said that I did not know what I was talking about. I did know what I was talking about, and I was seeking information on behalf of the people whom we are supposed to represent in this chamber. But to-day the laugh is on the other side of the face. This country will be faced with economic destruction if this Government is not soon relieved of its occupancy of the treasury bench because the Government has done nothing over the last five years to prepare this country for the results of England’s entry into the European Common Market. I do not say whether England should or should not join the European Common Market. That is no business of mine.
– You were in Africa five years ago.
– I was not. Senator Henty is not conversant with everything that goes on. The position five years ago was this: As I have stated in this chamber on numerous occasions, when I was in New Delhi 1 asked the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Heathcote Amory, about England’s attitude to joining the Common Market after the 1959 election, and he told me that, whichever party was in government, it would be forced economically and politically to have England join the Common Market. This talk took place in 1957 and this Government knew the position then just as Mr. Heathcote Amory did. A member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Davis, can tell you about this. I think Senator Wedgwood can back up tha’ statement, too. That was the opinion given ‘o us, and I made that information available to Mr. Bill McMahon. who was the leader of the delegation.
Honorable senators on this side of the chamber may not be blessed with ali the intelligence that Senator Spooner has. b;it we realize what the position is When Senator Spooner was in charge of the debate on the estimates for the Parliament io-night, he was forced to call upon an officer to supply him with answers to the simplest questions. He cannot be expected to know everything. All I ask him to do when a question that he cannot answer is addressed to him, is to say that he will refer the matter to the responsible Minister and obtain an answer. In that way he would be doing a service to this chamber and the people whom we represent; and I repeat that we do represent over half the people of the Commonwealth.
Reverting to the Trade Expansion Act passed by the American Congress, I wish to say that I had supplied to me a teleprinter message from America last Friday when the statement made by President Kennedy became available. I do not propose to read all of it; I shall content myself with quoting the following passage: -
We shall also use the authority of the act to negotiate with our other great trading partners, Canada and Japan, and with the countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa - and we are particularly concerned that the countries of Latin America shall have an opportunity to participate in this period of economic growth particularly as it affects the Common Market as well as our own United States.
There is no mention of Australia in that passage despite the fact that the Prime Minister of Australia had just left America to return to Australia. Nor does it make any mention at all of protection for our primary producers. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the full statement in “Hansard”. It reads -
The Trade Expansion Act of 1962 - the most important international piece of legislation . . . affecting economics since the passage of the Marshall Plan - is now law of the land.
President Kennedy hailed it in those words October 11 as he signed the congressional enactment which gives him greatly increased powers to bargain for lower trade barriers - greater and more flexible trade bargaining powers than any U.S. President has ever had before. “ It marks a decisive point for the future of our economy, for our relations with our friends and allies, and for the prospects of free institutions and free societies everywhere,” President Kennedy said during the signing ceremonies.
He said the Trade Act provides a means to make certain that the United States and the Common Market “ build our strength together “ and maintain their economic pre-eminence. It also will be used in bargaining with Canada and Japan - our other great bargaining partners - and other countries. “The United States will also use its bargaining powers to seek wider world markets for the products of the developing nations,” Mr. Kennedy said. “To-day I am signing the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. “This is the most important international piece of legislation, I think, affecting economics since the passage of the Marshall Plan. It marks a decisive point for the future of our economy, for our relations with our friends and allies, and for the prospects of free institutions and free societies everywhere. “This act recognizes, fully and completely, that we cannot protect our economy by stagnating behind tariff walls, that the best protection possible is a mutual lowering of tariff barriers among friendly nations so that all may benefit from a free flow of goods. Increased economic activity resulting from increased trade will provide more job opportunities for our workers. Our industry, our agriculture, our mining will benefit from increased export opportunities as other nations agree to lower their tariffs. Increased exports and imports will benefit our ports, steamship lines, and air lines as they handle an increased amount of trade. Lowering of our tariffs will provide an increased flow of goods for our American consumers. Out industries will be stimulated by increased export opportunities and by freer competition with the industries of other nations for an even greater effort to develop an efficient, economic and productive system. The results can bring a dynamic new era of growth. “By means of agreements authorized by the act, we can move forward to partnership with the nations of the Atlantic community. Together with the Common Market, we account for 90 per cent, of the free world’s trade in industrial products. Together we make up - and I think this is most important in this vital period - the greatest aggregation of economic power in the history of the world. We now have the means to make certain that we build our strength together and that we can maintain this pre-eminence. “We shall also use the authority of the act to negotiate with our other great trading partners, Canada and Japan, and with the countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa - and we are particularly concerned that the countries of Latin America shall have an opportunity to participate in this period of economic growth particularly as it affects the Common Market as well as our own United States. We will use the specific authorities designed to widen markets for the raw materials and manufactures of the less developed nations whose economic growth is so important to us all and to strengthen our efforts to end discriminatory and preferential arrangements which in the long run can only make every one poorer and the free world less united. “A vital expanding economy in the free world is a strong counter to the threat of the world Communist movement. This act is, therefore, an important new weapon to advance the cause of freedom. “ I want to express my strong appreciation to the members of the Congress who were so greatly involved in the passage of this bill - Chairman Mills and members of the House Ways and Means Committee who reported it to the floor, and the members of the House of Representatives who passed it - Senator Byrd and the members of the Senate Finance Committee - Senator Kerr and others who participated in the passage of this legislation - the leadership of the House and Senate and all those on both sides who made this legislation possible - citizens groups, Mr. Petersen, Mr. Gilbert, and the Labor organizations. Mr. George
Meany, who is here today, who was of great importance to the passage of this bill which if administered as it must be and will be directly from the White House, with the co-operation of the Department’s of State, Commerce, Agriculture, Labor, can mean so much to this country.”
I want to say to honorable senators that any questions I ask are asked in all sincerity for the purpose of seeking information. I hope that in future the Minister will treat all such questions with the courtesy that they demand.
– in reply - There are two angles to the matter which Senator Hendrickson has raised. The first is the manner in which the question is asked and the way in which it is answered. The second is the substance of the question and the answer. I remind the Senate of the circumstances of the episode of last Thursday. From my point of view, the position was this: Senator Hendrickson stood up and insulted me.
– In the course of asking his question, Senator Hendrickson said -
The answers given indicated that the Minister did not know anything about that matter, but that was in keeping with the attitude he adopted.
– That is true.
– It is simply not true. I know a good deal about the matter, and I was willing to give you a fair answer to your question. What happened last Thursday is exactly what is happening at this very minute. According to the record in “ Hansard “, when I tried to give you an answer last Thursday, you interjected seven times. There is a record in “ Hansard “ of seven interjections. I just could not give an answer. I could not make myself heard above your voice. If you ask a question and then by interjecting prevent the Minister giving his answer, you certainly do not add to the gaiety of nations, do you?
– Would you read the first sentence in your reply on Thursday?
– The first sentence was in reply to your very unfair wording of the question. After doing my best to answer, after trying to get to the point of the question, after the seven interjections, I sat down. I did not say anything about a “ Dorothy Dixer “. I endeavoured to show that I was at least a starter in the race. I sat down and said that if the Deputy Leader would put up any one else on that side of the chamber to ask the question, I would try to give the answer.
– Why bring me into it?
– Because the honorable senator was in charge of that side of the Senate at the time of the episode. I was saying that if any one else on that side had asked that question and given me a fair go, I would have given him a fair answer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19621016_senate_24_s22/>.